First and Ten - The Prep Reportby: Jamie DeMoney
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First and Ten
Ten teams that could finish the season ranked No. 1
Trinity (TX), Coach Steve Lineweaver
Preseason National Prep Poll ranking: No. 1
The Trojans begin the year No. 1 in the National Prep Poll largely because of their tremendous talent and strength in the trenches. Lineweaver led the team to its third 5A title in five years last season.
Plant (FL), Coach Robert Weiner
Preseason National Prep Poll ranking: No. 2
Despite heavy graduation losses on both sides of the ball, the Panthers are favored to win their fourth state title in five seasons. A win in Texas against preseason No. 3 Abilene could go a long way for Plant – and Florida prep football pride.
Abilene (TX), Coach Steve Warren
Preseason National Prep Poll ranking: No. 3
Abilene broke a 53-year state-championship drought last year and returns highly recruited cousins Ronnell and Herschel Sims to their offensive backfield. In addition to playing Plant, the Eagles will face defending Florida 2A champ Cocoa and top Louisiana contender Franklinton.
Lake Travis (TX), Coach Hank Carter
Preseason National Prep Poll ranking: No. 4.
First-year coach Carter grabs the reins of a program owning the nation’s third-longest active winning streak (46). Even if the Class 4A Cavaliers run the table again, it will be tough to build a case for the nation’s top ranking without winning a state title in their own state’s largest classification.
South Panola (MS), Coach Lance Pogue
Preseason National Prep Poll ranking: No. 5
The Magnolia State has produced more than its share of top college talent but never had a team finish No. 1 in the National Prep Poll. South Panola is one of today’s top prep football dynasties, winning 103 of its last 105 games and six out of seven Mississippi 5A titles.
St. Thomas Aquinas (FL), Coach George Smith
Preseason National Prep Poll ranking: No. 7
The Raiders graduated 10 FBS recruits from a team that seemed well on its way to a repeat Prep Poll title before losing to Bradenton Manatee in the 5A semifinals. This year’s squad already has five FBS commitments, and last year’s disappointment for Smith (346 wins) and company should make them hungrier than ever.
Glenville (OH), Coach Ted Ginn
Preseason National Prep Poll ranking: No. 8
If the Tarblooders could finally put it together for five straight weeks at playoff time, the nation’s top ranking wouldn’t be out of reach. Ginn’s team, which has produced 40 FBS signees the last five years, plays back-to-back games against nationally ranked Warren Central (IN) and Dwyer (FL) to start the season.
Grant (CA), Coach Mike Alberghini
Preseason National Prep Poll ranking: No. 9
The Pacers do not play a very difficult schedule and have a great chance to go undefeated and earn Northern California’s bid to the California Open Division championship game at season’s end. Alberghini (204-33) welcomes back 15 starters, including nine on defense.
Hoover (AL), Coach Josh Niblett
Preseason National Prep Poll ranking: No. 10
The Bucs have won the 6A title six times since 2000. If they do it again this year and also get a road win at nationally ranked Byrnes (SC) in the season opener, a national-title run is a possibility.
De La Salle (CA), Coach Bob Ladouceur
Preseason National Prep Poll ranking: No. 14
Although the Spartans start the year further back in the pack, a scenario exists for them to claim an unprecedented seventh Prep Poll title. Ladouceur’s squad has 10 returning starters, including talented junior QB Bart Houston, and an intriguing match-up with nationally ranked Bishop Gorman (NV) in September.