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Original Issue

A Cut Above the Rest

SI's Top 20 High School Teams

1 Hoover (Ala.)2005 RECORD: 14-1

TOP PLAYERS DL Kerry Murphy (6'5", 318, Sr.); OL Ryan Pugh (6'3", 270,Sr.); QB Ross Wilson (5'11", 185, Sr.); DL Josh Chapman (6'1", 280,Sr.); OL Patrick Crump (6'4", 285, Sr.)

KEY GAME Sept. 29vs. No. 12 John Curtis (River Ridge, La.)

OUTLOOK TheBuccaneers have won four straight Class 6A state titles and five in six years;with standouts at nearly every position they are heavy favorites to win it allagain. Wilson (2,950 passing yards and 31 touchdowns in 2005) leads the offenseand will be well-protected by a dominant line featuring Pugh, Crump, seniorGary Cramer and senior Tommy Sikora. Senior RB Dennis King and senior WRBrandon Clear are game-breakers. The key to a defense led by heralded recruitsChapman and Murphy is the line, which is the best in Alabama. Senior LB MichaelDeJohn is a tackling machine, and senior DB Camyren Stokes (six interceptions)anchors the secondary.

2 Lakeland (Fla.)2005 RECORD: 15-0

TOP PLAYERS DLJohn Brown (6'2", 295, Sr.); RB Chris Rainey (5'11", 170, Sr.); RBJamar Taylor (5'11", 210, Sr.); OL James Pouncey (6'4", 285, Sr.); OLLashawn Pouncey (6'4", 280, Sr.); WR Paul Wilson (6'1", 175, Sr.)

KEY GAME Sept. 16vs. No. 14 St. Xavier (Cincinnati) at Kirk Herbstreit Ohio vs. USA Challenge,Cincinnati

OUTLOOK Thetwo-time defending state Class 5A champion Dreadnaughts are loaded again: Theyhave at least nine Division I recruits, including six who have orally committedto Florida-Rainey, who ran for 1,571 yards in '05; the Pouncey twins, who clearthe way for Rainey and Taylor; Wilson, who caught 36 passes for 489 yards andfour touchdowns; and senior defensive backs Ahmad Black and Steve Wilks.Taylor, who committed to Alabama, is coming off a 27-touchdown season, andBrown (undecided) is one of the nation's top defensive linemen.

3 Oaks Christian(Westlake Village, Calif.) 2005 RECORD: 13-0

TOP PLAYERS QBJimmy Clausen (6'3", 208, Sr.); RB Marc Tyler (6'1", 220, Sr.); WR-DBMarshall Jones (6'1", 188, Sr.); OL-DL Duke Lemmens (6'5", 251, Sr.);LB Casey Matthews (6'2", 222, Sr.); DB Anthony Gildon (6'2", 186,Sr.)

KEY GAME Sept. 22at No. 10 St. Bonaventure (Ventura, Calif.)

OUTLOOK All eyeswill be on the Lions this year because of Clausen (box, page 63), who has ledhis team to the CIF Southern Section Division XI title each of the last threeseasons, but he's not the only reason Oaks Christian is ranked this high. Tyler(box, page 64) rushed for 2,195 yards and 39 touchdowns in '05, adding 421yards and six TDs on 22 receptions. Two-way standout Jones scored 15 TDs,including two on defense. Both gamebreakers have committed to USC. Lemmens,Matthews and Gildon head up a tough defense. "I'd rather deal with the highexpectations than everyone expecting you to lose," says coach BillRedell.

4 Warren Central(Indianapolis) 2005 RECORD: 14-1

TOP PLAYERS RBDarren Evans (6'1", 212, Sr.); DB-WR Jerimy Finch (6'2", 212, Sr.); WRAdrien Robinson (6'5", 225, Sr.); DL Jeff Boyd (6'4", 280, Sr.); TE EdHazelett (6'8", 235, Soph.)

KEY GAME Sept. 8vs. Ben Davis (Indianapolis)

OUTLOOK NoIndiana school has ever won four consecutive state championships, but theWarriors are one Class 5A title shy of accomplishing that feat. They have a newcoach, Steve Tutsie, the defensive coordinator for the past five seasons, whowas promoted after longtime coach Kevin Wright left for Union (Tulsa). Sixteenreturning starters, including two of the nation's top recruits (Evans andFinch), will help Tutsie's cause. Evans, who has committed to Virginia Tech,rushed for 2,165 yards and 39 touchdowns in '05, while the Michigan-bound Finchis a two-way standout. Seniors Matt Upshaw and Durell Martin will battle forplaying time at quarterback.

5 Carroll(Southlake, Texas) 2005 RECORD: 16-0

TOP PLAYERS RBTre' Newton (6'1", 185, Jr.); QB Riley Dodge (5'11", 175, Jr.); DL KyleRusso (6'3", 245, Sr.); LB Justin Padron (6 feet, 215, Sr.)

KEY GAME Sept. 14vs. Evangel Christian (Shreveport, La.)

OUTLOOK TheDragons are coming off their third state Class 5A Division II title in fouryears and were's No. 1 team for '05. But repeating will be much tougherthis year because coach Todd Dodge has to replace 53 graduated seniors. The newquarterback is the coach's son, Riley, who in part-time duty last season threwfor 767 yards and seven touchdowns while also running for 717 yards and sevenmore scores. He'll be looking for senior wideouts Blake Tomlin and AnthonyFord. Newton, whose father, Nate, was a Pro Bowl tackle for the Dallas Cowboys,rushed for 1,372 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. Russo, who had 14 sacks, andPadron, who was in on 186 tackles, key the defense.

6 Independence(Charlotte) 2005 RECORD: 15-0

TOP PLAYERS QBDarryl McFadden (6'2", 217, Sr.); LB Darryl Smith (6 feet, 210, Sr.); LBJustin McFadden (5'10", 215, Sr.); WR Jason Barnes (6'3", 195, Sr.)

KEY GAME Nov. 3at Butler (Matthews, N.C.)

OUTLOOK ThePatriots have won six consecutive state Class 4AA titles-the first three camewith current Florida quarterback Chris Leak under center-and enter the seasonwith the nation's longest winning streak, at 92 games. Among the 10 startersreturning are Darryl McFadden, who has committed to East Carolina afterthrowing for 3,877 yards and 33 touchdowns last season, plus four offensivelinemen: seniors Terry Jones, Karston Grant and Willie Simmons and junior ErikThompson. The defense is lacking that experience, however, as only threestarters are back; one of those is Justin McFadden (no relation to Darryl). Heand Smith, both linebackers, will be counted on heavily.

7 Lufkin (Texas)2005 RECORD: 14-1

TOP PLAYERS QBJeremy Claybon (6 feet, 185, Sr.); WR Dez Bryant (6'2", 200, Sr.); RBJa'Corey Turner (5'10", 170, Sr.); LB A.J. Penson (6'2", 220, Sr.);WR-DB Ralph Thomas (5'9", 165, Sr.)

KEY GAME Oct. 26at The Woodlands (Texas)

OUTLOOK ThePanthers won their first 14 games last season before losing to eventual statechampion Southlake Carroll in the state Class 5A Division II semifinals. With14 starters back, Lufkin looks primed for a better finish. After throwing for2,500 yards and 24 touchdowns, Claybon, who missed the Carroll game because ofa broken right (nonthrowing) arm, is back at full strength and has a primetarget in Bryant (48 receptions, 1,060 yards, 16 touchdowns). Senior JaimeFernandez (102 points, 16-for-22 FGs) is one of the top kickers in Texas. Theleader of the defense is the hard-hitting Penson, who had 110 tackles.

8 South Panola(Batesville, Miss.) 2005 RECORD: 15-0

TOP PLAYERS LBChris Strong (6'3", 240, Sr.); QB Leroy Diggs (6 feet, 180, Sr.); RB-DBDarius Barksdale (6'2", 190, Jr.); RB Jeramie Griffin (6 feet, 215, Sr.);OL Hunter Bailey (6'2", 315, Sr.); OL Cameron Wagner (6 feet, 260, Jr.)

KEY GAME Aug. 25at Clarksdale (Miss.)

OUTLOOK TheTigers have won three straight state Class 5A championships and carry a 45-gamewinning streak into the season. A strong senior class includes three playerswho have committed to Ole Miss: Strong, Diggs and Griffin. Strong is thestate's top player and one of the nation's best linebackers. The offense relieson a running game that mixes option with misdirection out of an I formation.Last season Diggs ran for 1,450 yards and 14 touchdowns in addition to throwingfor 956 yards and 15 scores. Tailback Griffin had 1,116 rushing yards and 14TDs.

9 St. Edward(Lakewood, Ohio) 2005 RECORD: 12-1

TOP PLAYERS DB-RBNate Oliver (6 feet, 205, Sr.); RB Frank Edmonds (5'8", 190, Sr.); LBDiaunte Morrow (6 feet, 190, Sr.); LB Jeff Lucas (6'3", 225, Sr.); WR KyleHubbard (6'4", 225, Sr.)

KEY GAME Sept. 9at No. 14 St. Xavier (Cincinnati)

OUTLOOK TheEagles' only loss last season was a 21-17 setback to Massillon Washington inthe state Division I semifinals, but the return of 13 starters gives them ashot at going all the way in '06. Defense is the team's strength, andOliver-who had 16 tackles for loss in '05 and has committed to Ohio State-setsthe tone. Morrow added 75 tackles, including 15 tackles for loss and eightsacks. On offense St. Edward boasts one of Ohio's top running backs in Edmonds;despite being only 5'8", he ran for 2,200 yards and 23 touchdowns lastseason. Hubbard is a tall target who hauled in 57 passes for 625 yards andeight TDs.

10 St.Bonaventure (Ventura, Calif.) 2005 RECORD: 14-0

TOP PLAYERS RBMichael Lee (5'9", 180, Sr.); DB Michael Williams (5'11", 192, Sr.);TE-LB Blaine Irby (6'3", 237, Sr.); OL Vaughn Dotsy (6'5", 340, Jr.);LB Ryan Panapa (6'2", 247, Jr.); DB Glenn Wakam (5'11", 191, Sr.)

KEY GAME Sept. 22vs. No. 3 Oaks Christian (Westlake Village, Calif.)

OUTLOOK Winnersof 95 of their last 98 games, the Seraphs won their sixth section title inseven years last season. Williams, one of the nation's top recruits (stillundecided), had 94 tackles, two interceptions, two sacks and a fumblerecovery-and also returned a total of 30 kickoffs and punts for 873 yards andfour touchdowns. Irby, a Texas recruit, is a dominant tight end who will alsosee time at linebacker. The running game is in good hands with Lee, who rushedfor 1,929 yards and 31 touchdowns.

11 CentralCatholic (Pittsburgh) 2005 RECORD: 10-2

TOP PLAYERS OLStefen Wisniewski (6'3", 285, Sr.); RB-DB Lamont Smith (5'10", 175,Sr.); LB Anthony Bailey (6'1", 190, Sr.); DB Casey Dunn (6'2", 190,Sr.); LB Lamar Mason (5'11", 190, Sr.); FB-DE Dan Vaughan (6'3", 210,Jr.)

KEY GAME Sept. 22at Woodland Hills (Pittsburgh)

OUTLOOK TheVikings, who won the state Class AAAA title in 2004, are loaded on both sidesof the ball, and they'll need it against a tough schedule that includes Gateway(Monroeville, Pa.) and Woodland Hills, which defeated Central Catholic in theWPIAL semifinals last season. Wisniewski, a Top 100 recruit, leads an offensiveline that has fellow seniors Anthony Petrocinni and Dean Sherman back as well.They'll open holes for Smith, who ran for 2,070 yards and scored 29 touchdownsin '05 and has committed to Colorado. Bailey and Dunn are playmakers ondefense.

12 John Curtis(River Ridge, La.) 2005 RECORD: 10-1

TOP PLAYERSRB-WR-DB Joe McKnight (6 feet, 197, Sr.); OL Andrew Nierman (6'2", 305,Sr.); LB Jacob Dufrene (6'2", 215, Sr.); DL Jonathan English (6'1",305, Sr.); LB-DB Colby Arceneaux (5'9", 185, Sr.); RB David Seeman(5'11", 190, Sr.)

KEY GAME Sept. 29at No. 1 Hoover (Ala.)

OUTLOOK Despitewinning the state Class 2A championship last year, the Patriots had a difficultseason because many players were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. "There's adeeper appreciation of football than there was before," says coach J.T.Curtis (son of the school's founder). "That experience changed theirperspective on life in general." Curtis has one of the nation's mostexciting players in McKnight, who scored 22 touchdowns in '05. Other weapons onoffense include Seeman, senior quarterback Kyle Collura and junior widereceiver P.J. Smith.

13 De La Salle(Concord, Calif.) 2005 RECORD: 11-2

TOP PLAYERS LBAlbert Rosette (6'2", 210, Sr.); DB Lonnie Wishom (5'11", 180, Sr.); RBTim Maupin (5'11", 170, Sr.); OL Steve Valenzuela (6'3", 245, Sr.); OLTyler Hess (6'3", 240, Sr.)

KEY GAME Oct. 7vs. Mission Viejo (Calif.)

OUTLOOK TheSpartans' 14-0 shutout of San Leandro in last year's North Coast Section 4Achampionship game gave them 14 straight titles. The offense is led by juniorquarterback Mike MacGillivray, who threw for 1,365 yards and 10 touchdowns in'05, but he'll get plenty of help from senior running backs Maupin, Ryan Nastorand Tillman Pugh, who combined for 2,124 rushing yards and 36 TDs. The heart ofthe defense is Rosette, who had 108 tackles and four sacks; the secondary isairtight behind lockdown corner Wishom.

14 St. Xavier(Cincinnati) 2005 RECORD: 15-0

TOP PLAYERS RBDarius Ashley (5'9", 180, Jr.); OL Wes Schroder (6'4", 295, Sr.); DBFred Craig (6'2", 200, Jr.); LB Nick Schneider (6'3", 230, Jr.); DB JonSaelinger (6 feet, 175, Sr.)

KEY GAME Sept. 16vs. No. 2 Lakeland (Fla.) at Kirk Herbstreit Ohio vs. USA Challenge,Cincinnati

OUTLOOK TheBombers won the state Division I title last year, and their reward was arguablythe nation's toughest schedule in 2006. They'll play No. 9 St. Edward on Sept.9, followed the next week by No. 2 Lakeland. A talented junior class includesAshley, who ran for 1,633 yards and 28 touchdowns last year. Schroder, seniorHoward Patton and juniors Max Bauman and Mike Knueven are the keys to a strongoffensive line. Junior wideout-kicker-punter Danny Milligan makes trouble foropponents in a number of ways. Craig had 80 tackles, six sacks and threeinterceptions at safety.

15 St. Peter'sPrep (Jersey City, N.J.) 2005 RECORD: 12-0

TOP PLAYERS LB-RBWill Thompson (6'1", 230, Sr.); RB Shariff Harris (6'2", 205, Sr.); OLRich Brennan (6 feet, 260, Sr.); QB-RB-WR-DB Will Hill (6'3", 200, Jr.); WRMike Lang (6'1", 180, Sr.); TE-DL Ravi Pradhanang (6'3", 240, Sr.)

KEY GAME Sept. 9vs. Delbarton (Morristown, N.J.) at Giants Stadium

OUTLOOK Seventeenstarters are back from the team that defeated Don Bosco Prep 22-15 in the stateNon-Public Group 4 state final last year. Hill, who threw 17 touchdown passesand ran for nine more scores in '05, will split time this year at quarterback,running back and wide receiver; senior Shawn Boysen will also see time atquarterback. The defense, which gave up only 75 points last season, is led bysenior linebackers Thompson, Joe Valenti and Steve Pankiewicz. Hill was namedan all-state safety after making 58 tackles and seven interceptions.

16 St. Augustine(Fla.) 2005 RECORD: 15-0

TOP PLAYERS QBQuinterrance Cooper (6 feet, 180, Sr.); RB Rai-shawn Wilson (5'10", 190,Sr.); OL Robert Petry (6'5", 320, Sr.); OL Justin Carter (6'5", 280,Sr.); DL Gerard Oxendine (6'3", 200, Sr.); LB Nathaniel Wuellner (6'2",210, Sr.)

KEY GAME Oct. 27at Palatka (Fla.)

OUTLOOK TheYellow Jackets are defending state Class 3A champions but have to fill hugevoids left by the graduation of running back Brandon James and defensive backJacques Rickerson, both now at Florida. One of the state's top running backs,Wilson takes over the starring role after rushing for 879 yards and 12touchdowns in '05, and he has senior Kevis Streeter to share the load. Theoffensive line is a strength behind Petry and Carter. Oxendine, who had 98tackles, and senior Donnie Gumble anchor the defensive line, with Wuellnerworking behind them.

17 Byrnes(Duncan, S.C.) 2005 RECORD: 15-0

TOP PLAYERS QBWilly Korn (6'2", 205, Sr.); LB Stanley Hunter (6 feet, 215, Sr.); OL-LBChad Diehl (6'2", 237, Sr.); DB Dennis Rector (5'9", 165, Sr.); WRRandall Hawkins (6'1", 190, Jr.)

KEY GAME Aug. 26vs. No. 20 Glades Central (Belle Glade, Fla.)

OUTLOOK TheRebels won their fourth consecutive state AAAA Division II title last season,but number five will be much more difficult to come by with 38 seniors gonefrom last year's team and a schedule that includes No. 20 Glades Central,Moeller (Cincinnati) and Gaffney (S.C.). It helps that Byrnes has one of thenation's top quarterbacks in Korn, who was named Gatorade's South CarolinaPlayer of the Year after passing for 4,164 yards and a single-seasonstate-record 53 touchdowns, while also rushing for 763 yards and 10 morescores. Korn and defensive leader Hunter have committed to Clemson.

18 Jenks (Okla.)2005 RECORD: 9-2

TOP PLAYERS DBTimmy Dial (6'2", 210, Sr.); DL Tanner Shuck (6 feet, 225, Sr.); QB MarkGinther (6'1", 175, Jr.); RB Chris Adkins (5'9", 180, Jr.); OL Ty Cobb(6'1", 270, Sr.); DL Tony Gillespie (6'1", 295, Jr.)

KEY GAME Sept. 8vs. Union (Tulsa)

OUTLOOK Tragedystruck the Trojans in July, when starting center Garrett Bennett died in a caraccident. "The talk among the players has been to win [the state title] forBennett," says coach Allan Trimble. "They've decided they're going toplay for him, and I think that's noble." Ginther threw for 1,664 yards and19 touchdowns last year, while Adkins ran for 724 yards and seven scores. Jenksis stacked on defense with Shuck (four-year starter), Gillespie (bench-presses365 pounds) and senior defensive backs Dial (committed to Arkansas), Devin Reedand P.J. Adeji-Paul.

19 Hampton (Va.)2005 RECORD: 13-1

TOP PLAYERS: QBTyrod Taylor (6'1", 205, Sr.); LB-RB-WR Jacobi Fenner (5'9", 188, Sr.);LB Marquis Bassette (6 feet, 215, Sr.); DL Tyrel Wilson (6'2", 220, Soph.);DL Anthony Wardrett (6 feet, 205, Jr.)

KEY GAME: Oct. 20vs. Phoebus (Hampton, Va.)

OUTLOOK: TheCrabbers won the state Group AAA Division 5 final last year and bring back 12starters, including Taylor, who's one of the nation's top quarterbacks and hascommitted to Virginia Tech. He threw for 1,544 yards and nine touchdowns andran for 1,044 yards and 21 scores in '05. Fenner proved he was a two-waystandout in the title game, when he ran for a touchdown on offense and had sixtackles, an interception and a forced fumble on defense. The defense, whichgave up only eight points a game, will be solid again.

20 Glades Central(Belle Glade, Fla.) 2005 RECORD: 12-1

TOP PLAYERS: WRDeonte Thompson (6'1", 190, Sr.); WR Tarus McKinley (6 feet, 190, Sr.); QBBryan Mann (6'1", 190, Sr.); RB-DB Damien Berry (5'11", 205, Sr.); OLErnest McCoy (6'5", 330, Sr.); OL Jatavious Jackson (6'4", 295,Sr.)

KEY GAME: Aug. 26at No. 17 Byrnes (Duncan, S.C.)

OUTLOOK: Thankslargely to the return of 19 starters, the Raiders are primed for a run at thestate Class 3A title after losing to Booker (Sarasota) in last year'ssemifinals. They have a high-powered passing game behind Mann (23 TD passes in'05) and wide receivers Thompson and McKinley. Glades uses a 3-3-5 defense totake advantage of its speed; senior defensive backs Berry (committed to Miami),Johnnie Lee Dixon (Auburn), Rashad Jackson, Gion Jackson and Curtis Cross areall fast and physical.

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