Spring is still a month away but it’s never too early to look at questions surrounding the best high school football teams.
So starting this week, I will start by looking at the top 10 teams in my opinion at the Class 1A level, every week I will preview another classification.
I will revisit these rankings in Mid- July and will give my 2011 Season preview, so the rankings could change. Stay Tuned.
So here goes the Top 10 Class 1A Teams starting with No. 10 and ending with the No. 1 team.
10. Sunbright Tigers
Last Season’s Record- 8-3, lost in 2nd round to Copper Basin
Key Returnees- Jessie England (QB, Sr., 2,204 passing yards), Derek Miller (K/P, Sr.), Chris Henes (OL, Jr.), Austin Webb (OL, Sr.), Billy Hunter (WR, Sr.), Timmy Turner (WR, Sr.)
Key Losses– Issac Hueling (OL), Dave Henes (WR), L.C. Satterfield (WR), Shawn Wilson (RB/LB), Sean Boling (OL), Lucas Brock (LB)
Spring Questions- The Tigers will have to replace three starters on the offensive line and will have to address their needs on the defensive line, they will also need a wide receiver to step up and take the reins from wide receiver Andrew Henes who led the Tigers in receiving.
Good Depth– Obviously having the quarterback who passed for 2,200 yards is a big plus but the Tigers also have four players at wide receiver to execute their passing game.
9. Coalfield Yellow Jackets
Last Season’s Record- 10-3, lost in Semifinals to South Pittsburg
Key Returnees- Cody Hill (QB, Sr., 2,000 yards passing), Allen Seiber (RB, Sr., 1,300 rushing yards), Anthony Wilkins (WR, Sr., 75 catches, 1,200 receiving yards), Seth Francis (RB, Sr., ), Shane Ashley (OL/DL, Sr.), Benson Napier (OL, Soph.)
Key Losses- Zach Moore (OL), Forrest Adkisson (RB), Tyler Walls (TE), Luke Jackson (OL/DL)
Spring Questions- Coalfield will have to get replacements in the offensive line as well as replacing tight end Tyler Walls who was a big part of the offense last season.
Good Depth- The Yellow Jackets have a solid tandem at running back in seniors Allen Seiber and backup Seth Francis.
8. Nashville Christian Eagles
Last Season’s Record-9-3, lost in 2nd round to Wayne County.
Key Returnees- Sam Cooper (DE, Sr.,), Taylor Shelton (WR, Sr.), Hunter Pearce (DL, Sr.), C.J. Cameron (QB, Sr.), Ryan Young (QB, Fr.), Zach Stevens (RB, Jr.), Joe Whelan (LB, Jr.), Daniel Pierce (LB, Jr.), Brandon McCoy (RB, Sr.), Trent Mueller (LB, Soph), Hayden Mueller (LB, Sr.)
Key Losses- Thomas Knobloch (WR/FS/K), Matt Ogle (QB), Nick Weiss (RB), John Sneed (LB), Parker Jones (LB)
Spring Questions- The biggest question will be finding someone to replace the many talents of Thomas Knobloch. He was a 1,000 yard receiver, handled the kicking game for the Eagles and made five interceptions and 75 tackles from his free safety position.
Good Depth – The Eagles have a nice collection of players at linebacker that have experience including Trent and Hayden Mueller, Joe Whelan and Daniel Pierce.
7. Union City Tornadoes
Last Season’s Record- 5-6, lost in 1st round to Bruceton
Key Returnees- Keylon Hyde (FB/LB, Jr., 1,200 yards rushing), DeAndrez Williams (RB/DB, Sr.), Nic Crumble (OL/DL, Sr.), Brett Gore (OL/DL, Jr.), Joseph Shanks (OL/DL, Jr.,), Travis Rutland (QB, Jr.), Keontre Murrell (RB, Jr.), Tymaine Strickland (RB, Soph).
Key Losses- Chase Bowling (QB), Trey Maddox (OL/LB), Kelly Scales (OL/DL)
Spring Questions- The looming and most important question is can junior Travis Rutland make Tornado fans forgot about Chase Bowling. Bowling was the heart and soul of the team and his leadership will be hard to replace.
Good Depth – At running back Union City has junior Keylon Hyde coming back after rushing for over 1,200 yards last season. Union City also has three other backs as well in senior DeAndrez Williams, junior Keontre Murrell and sophomore Tymaine Strickland.
6. Lake County Falcons
Last Season’s Record- 9-3, lost in Quarterfinals to Perry County
Key Returnees- Rafeal Tyler (ATH, Sr.), Anthony Crawford (DT, Sr.), Ricky Boyd (RB, Sr.), Caleb Bledsoe (WR, Sr.), Caylan Bargary (LB, Jr.), Devon Jones (RB/DB, Jr.), Craig Lewis (LB/OG, Jr.), Justin Kimble (DT/OT, Jr.), John Leland (QB/WR/DB, Jr.)
Key Losses- Bernard Gauldin (OL/DL), Sam Hayes (QB), Chris Mills (RB/DB), David Keefe (FB/LB), Bo Simmons (OG/DT)
Spring Questions- The first big question is who will be behind center as all around Rafeal Tyler who had over 1,000 receiving yards last season could be the quarterback but so could juniors Nick Price and John Leland. The next question is trying to find replacements for three offensive linemen including big man Bernard Gauldin.
Good Depth- The Falcons doesn’t really have depth at one certain position but they have a ton of playmakers in Tyler, running backs Ricky Boyd and Devon Jones and Caleb Bledsoe and John Leland at wide receiver.
5. Gordonsville Tigers
Last Season’s Record- 9-3, lost in Quarterfinal round to South Pittsburg
Key Returnees- Tyler Coleman (RB/DB, Sr.), Vincente Jackson (WR, Sr.), Tallon Mehlhoff (TE, Sr.), Tyler Coen (DL, Jr.), Peyton Watson (WR, Jr.), Vincent Escobedo (QB/WR/DB, Sr.), Drew Hamlet (QB, Soph.), Jared Randolph (RB/DB, Sr.), J.T. Swaim (RB/DB, Jr.), Brandon McCoy (LB, Jr.), Noah King (RB, Jr.)
Key Losses- Cody Woodmore (RB, 1,463 yards rushing), Chaz Smith (930 rushing yards, 953 passing yards), Nic Gillespie (DT), Brad Fitts (WR/DE), Chasen Williams (P), Zach Campbell (LB)
Spring Questions- Gordonsville will have to find replacements for Cody Woodmore at running back and for Chaz Smith at Quarterback. They have a logjam at running back with six backs returning that rushed for at least 100 yards last year. Watson (113 yards), Escobedo (100), Hamlet (121), Randolph (126), Swaim (117) and King (123) all could get carries but in all likelihood it will be by committee. Hamlet will probably be the successor to Smith but spring practice will decide that.
Good Depth – Obviously having so many running backs in the fold makes the Tigers deadly on the offensive side of the football, if they get the position settled along with the quarterback position they will be dangerous.
4. Wayne County Wildcats
Last Season’s Record- 10-2, lost in Quarterfinal round to JoByrns
Key Returnees- Austin Rice (QB, 51 catches, 878 receiving yards, 15 TDs), Haden Skelton (RB/WR, Sr.), Clint Butler (771 yards rushing, 11 TDs), Nick Horton (RB/LB, Sr.), Boston Ray (OL, Sr.), Micah Pyle (RB/DB, Sr.), Peyton Mathis (WR/DB, Sr.), Dakota Willis (OL/DL, Sr.), Sheyenne Reeves (OL/DL, Sr.), Daniel Rumbaugh (OL/DL, Sr.)
Key Losses- Tyler Rice (QB, Class A Mr. Football Back winner, 2,011 yards passing, 33 TDs), Jacoby Brewer (OL), Lucas Pippenger (TE), Drew Bevis (WR), Jansen Bratcher (OL/DL), Dalynn Teeftaller (OL/DL).
Spring Questions- Austin Rice will have the dubious honor of trying to replace his brother Tyler who was a four year starter and is the reigning Class A Mr. Football Back Winner. The one positive for Austin going into the season is he is a better athlete then Tyler was so expect a little bit of everything from the Wayne County senior next year. The Wildcats will have to replace three starters on the offensive line but they do have their best lineman in Boston Ray returning to the fold.
Good Depth – Wayne County has 20 seniors returning with many of them with experience from last year’s team that went to the Quarterfinals, if they have some depth it would be a wide receiver and running back.
3. Perry County Vikings
Last Season’s Record- 11-2, lost in Semifinals to JoByrns
Key Returnees- Jacob Tucker (QB, Sr., 3,313 yards passing, 36 TDs, 1,320 yards rushing, 20 TDs), Zach Grimes (WR/RB/DB, Sr., 624 yards receiving, 9 TDs), Cannon Rhodes (WR/DB, Sr., 333 yards receiving, 5 TDs), Derek Watkins (WR/DB, Sr.), Taylor Dill (WR/DB, Sr., 585 yards receiving, 4 TDs), Garrett Hill (LB/OL, Sr., )
Key Losses- Dray Mercer (WR, 91 catches, 1,381 yards receiving, 10 TDs, 557 yards rushing, 6 TDs), Ethan Belasic (OL/DE, Sr.), Mitchell Watkins (WR/DB), Brandon Jones (OL/LB), Robert Peavyhouse (DL), Cody Leegan (OL/DL)
Spring Questions- the Good news is that the Vikings have quarterback Jacob Tucker and his 4,633 yards of total offense are back as well as most of his weapons. But the biggest weapon in wide receiver Dray Mercer and his nearly 2,000 yards of total offense are gone. Finding someone to step into his shoes will be priority number one in Linden this offseason.
Good Depth – Tucker has four of his top six wide receivers back so expect big numbers out of this receiving corps again this year.
2. JoByrns Red Devils
Last Season’s Record- 13-1, lost to South Pittsburg in Class 1A State Title Game.
Key Returnees- Brandon Atkins (QB, Sr., 2,108 yards passing, 27 TDs), Frankie Traughber (RB, Sr., 1, 413 yards rushing, 14 TDs), Quency Neblett (WR/DB, Sr.), Will Brown (LB, WR, Sr., 110 tackles, 35 catches, 613 yards receiving), Myles Morris (LG, Jr.), Alan Lemmins (LT/DT, Sr.), Cody Vaughn (C, Sr.), Ace Evans (RT, Jr.), Trent Bibee (LB, Sr., 84 tackles)
Key Losses- Brandon Holt (RB/S, 1, 327 yards rushing, 24 TDs), Johnny Smith (FB/DE), Caleb Castleman (RG/LB), Michael Yates (TE/LB), Malcolm Meadows (DE), Christopher Corbin (DB)
Spring Questions- The Red Devils have a ton of talent back from their runner up team from last season but finding another running back to compliment Frankie Traughber like Brandon Holt did last season is on top of the want list.
Good Depth – JoByrns has four of their starting five offensive linemen returning with another year under their belt which is a good thing in Red Devil country.
1. South Pittsburg Pirates
Last Season’s Record- 12-2, Beat JoByrns in Class 1A State title Game
Key Returnees-DeMetric Johnson (WR/RB, Jr.), Antonio Chubb (WR, Sr.), Matthew Allen (WR, Sr.), Colton Blevins (OL, Sr.), Cody Branham (OL, Sr.), Matthew Hawkins (NG, Sr.), Corbin Hale (LB, Jr.), Karrell Hutchins (LB, Sr.), Michael Allen (FS, Sr.), Jake Stone (QB, Jr.), Jonathan Sellers (RB, Sr.), JaJuan Lankford (RB, Soph)
Key Losses- Raquis Hale (RB, over 2,000 yards rushing), Travis Milliard (QB), Josh Wilson (TE/DE), Cory Lordlaw (LT), Jacoby Reynolds (RG/DE), Aubrey Earvin (RT).
Spring Questions- Finding another star to replace Hale. It looks like either senior Jonathan Sellers or sophomore JaJuan Lankford will be the next man in line of great Pirate backs. Vic Grider also will look to junior Jake Stone to replace Travis Milliard at quarterback.
Good Depth – The Pirates have tons of athletes everywhere you look. At running back with Sellers and Lankford and especially at wide receiver where the top two wide outs are back in DeMetric Johnson and Antonio Chubb, who both can go the distance anytime they touch the football.
Questions? Comments email [email protected]@yahoo.com and follow him on twitter @ dstew4vu.