We made it. High school football is finally back.
As we speak, young men across the nation are strapping on the shoulder pads and running through the heat of summer in preparation for the approaching season. A new group of all star recruits is getting ready to show off their skills for the curious onlooking eyes of college coaches and recruiters.
In preparation for the season, USA Today has released their annual preseason Top 25 poll of the top high school football teams in the nation.
17 states placed a team on the list. Florida led the way with four squads while California and Texas each had three teams.
A lot will change over the course of the season, but here's a look at the 10 teams the USA Today staff feel are the country's elite.
The Trojans will have nine offensive starters returning to a team that went 14-2 and took home the Texas 5A-1 State Championship last year. The group will be led by new starting quarterback Lahi Kautai, who has only thrown three passes in a varsity game.
The new QB shouldn’t be too worried though. He has receiver Brandon Carter, an Oklahoma recruit, to take some of the pressure off. Running Back Tevin Williams, who rushed for over 800 yards in 2009, also returns.
Trinity will start the season off by traveling to take on Lee High Shool from Tyler, Texas. The August 28th game will be broadcast live on ESPNU at 10 PM. A week later, the Trojans will battle with Shiloh Christian of Springdale, Arkansas. Shiloh is ranked 25th in the USA Today preseason poll.
Quarterback Rakeem Cato is the big name this season for the Rockets. The Miami Springs transfer has been praised by Central coaches for his accuracy and passing skills. Cato has been making his way around the summer camp scene, picking up offers from the likes of Marshall and Florida International so far.
Central will have to replace leading rusher Brandon Gainer and leading receiver Joshua Reese. Devonta Freeman is a capable replacement at running back and receivers such as Tommy Freeman, Charlie Gaines, and Durrell Eskridge all have a chance to shine.
The defense will be led by end Dwight Jackson and linebacker Miles Pace. Both have received scholarship offers from BCS schools.
Central’s schedule includes tough out of state contests against Pratville (Alabama) and Camden County (Georgia), and of course, there’s always the showdown with crosstown rival Northwestern to decide things.
The Eagles were the 5A-II State Champions in Texas last year, but the road won’t be easy for a repeat. The offensive and defensive lines will be inexperienced and the team only returns a combined eight starters from last year’s offensive and defensive units.
Quarterback Ronnell Simms is only 5‘8 but he’s a dynamic runner. He’s already been offered a scholarship from Baylor and Tulsa. Running Back Herschel Sims committed to Oklahoma State after rushing for 2,346 yards and 35 TDs last year.
Abilene plays two quality Florida opponents this season - Cocoa and Plant. The game against Plant will be played on September 16th and will be broadcast live on ESPNU.
The Tigers are coming off a 14-1 state championship season last year. They've been the most dominant team in the state over the last decade winning 104 of their last 106 games.
South Panola beat Petal 38-0 in their opening game at the new Moultrie Stadium this past weekend. Running Back Qyen Griffin was the star of the show rushing for 246 yards on 16 carries.
Stud receiver Nick Brasseell, one of the top receiver recruits in the country, caught a 35-yard TD pass in the game. Brassell has been offered by schools such as Alabama, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Tennessee.
The Tigers next opponent will be Colquitt County, a highly talented Georgia squad who were upset 15-9 at the hands of Cook last week.
Many around Utah feel this edition of the Bingham high school football team could be one of the most talented in the state’s history. The Miners return pretty much everybody from last year’s 13-1 state championship team.
Last year’s state player of the year, running back Harvey Langi, is back after running for 1,514 yards and 21 TDs in 2009.
The tussle with Alta on August 28th should be an exciting contest.
Running back James Wilder is a freak of nature. The 6‘2, 215 lbs. senior has already committed to Florida State after rushing for 1,004 yards and 15 TDs last season. He also had 136 tackles and 19 sacks on the defensive side of the ball.
Quarterback Phillip Ely is back after throwing for 1,737 yards and 19 TDs in 2009. He is currently 19-0 as a starter.
Plant has to replace a bunch of starters, but with James Wilder out on the field, don’t expect a big dropoff.
The Phantoms come into the season as back-to-back VHSL 5A State Champions and winners of 30 straight games.
They have a wealth of starters returning on both the offense and the defense including some big division one prospects. Defensive End Daquan Romero, a North Carolina commit, is one of the biggest recruits in the state of Virginia. Romero totaled 30 sacks last season.
Another important defender is linebacker Caleb Taylor. The senior is another highly regarded recruit, who has given his verbal commitment to Mike London and the University of Virginia.
The big question surrounding the team is Eric Enderson. The former kicker is given the task of trying to replace Paul Morant at quarterback.
Manatee’s season doesn’t officially start until September 4th, but the team will find out a lot about itself in this Friday’s preseason game against Plant, which will be broadcast on ESPNU.
The player to watch on Manatee is running back Mike Blakely. The 5‘9 back rushed for 1,400 yards last year. He could be a future star for the Florida Gators.
Another player that deserves some attention is wide receiver Quenton Bundrage. The 6‘2 senior is one of the best receivers in the state, and he’s already been offered by Cincinnati, Central Florida, and Marshall.
The Cavaliers have already won three straight 4A-1 state titles. And with Texas Tech commit Michael Brewer returning at the quarterback position, they have a great shot to win one again this year.
Brewster put up eye popping stats for a Lake Travis team that went a perfect 16-0 last year. The quarterback totaled 4,450 yards and 43 TDs through the air and added 615 rushing yards and 23 TDs on the ground.
The Cavaliers have a 46-game winning streak going into this season.
The entire offense is back for a Good Counsel team that went 11-1 last season.
Wide Receiver Stefon Diggs has been offered by Maryland and Pitt as has running back Wesley Brown, who has also been offered by Boston College and Virginia.
The team has an early test on August 29th against St. Xavier of Ohio. The game will be broadcast on ESPN at 3‘’clock.