Super 25 Football preseason: 15 teams on the bubble

Photo: Matt Stone, Courier-Journal

Super 25 Football preseason: 15 teams on the bubble

Super 25

Super 25 Football preseason: 15 teams on the bubble


The Super 25 preseason rankings have been announced, with Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) leading the way.

MORE: Mater Dei (Calif.) opens season No. 1 | Full rankings | Bishop Gorman’s four-peat attempt a tall order

Below are 15 teams that almost made the cut.

Archbishop Wood

Location: Warminster, Pa.
2016 record: 12-2 and state 5A champion
2016 Super 25 final ranking: Not ranked

Quick take: The Vikings have won state titles in two of the past three seasons. The top returnee is TE Kyle Pitts (28 catches for 396 yards and six TDs), who recently committed to Florida.

Other key returnees include: Virginia Tech commit Nasir Peoples, a senior DB-WR-RB; senior LB Matt Palmer, an All-State player; junior QB Jack Colyar (1,900 yards and 21 TDs passing, 229 yards and two TDs rushing), who is a Duke baseball commit; senior OL Tom Walsh; senior DE-TE Bill Schaeffer, who was a second-team All-Catholic League selection and senior LB Tyler Smith. The Vikings aren’t afraid to schedule tough teams. They will play 6A state champion St. Joseph’s Prep (Philadelphia), plus Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.), Paramus (N.J.) Catholic and Oxbridge Academy (West Palm Beach, Fla), which was a state 3A quarterfinalist.


Location: South Jordan, Utah
2016 record: 14-1 and 5A state champion
2016 Super 25 final rankings: No. 11

Quick take: The Miners return six offensive and six defensive. The returnees are led by senior WR-DB Brayden Cosper (49 catches for 792 yards and nine TDs), who has committed to BYU. Bingham has three outstanding LBs in senior Jakobi Matagi, junior Lalani Langi, the younger brother of New England Patriots LB Harvey Langi, and junior DL Simote Pepa. Another standout is senior WR-DB Dax Milne. The Miners will get early tests with 4A champion East (Salt Lake City), which, like Bingham, is now in 6A and Hawaii state runner-up Kahuku.


Location: West Hills, Calif.
2016 record: 8-4 and CIF Southern Section Div. I quarterfinalist
2016 Super 25 final ranking: Unranked

Quick take: The Eagles lost standout running back T.J. Pledger to IMG, but have oodles of Division I talent. Senior WR Michael Wilson (70 catches) is a Stanford commit.

Senior DE-TE Parks Gissinger recently committed to Michigan State. Senior RB-DB Andrew Van Buren is one of the top backs in the state. Other key players: Junior QB Ryan Stevens (1,269 yards, nine TDs passing); senior LB James Thomas; senior CB Dallas Taylor-Cortez, K Jonah Lipel, a Harvard commit, and senior OT Dylan Kellogg. Their top transfer is senior DB-WR Adonis Brown from Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks). They will be tested by St. John Bosco (Bellflower) and Arizona 6A runner-up Mountain Pointe  (Phoenix).


Location: DeSoto, Texas
2016 record: 15-0 and 6A-II state champion
2016 Super 25 final ranking: No. 3

Quick take: The Eagles had a tumultuous offseason with coach Todd Peterman having to fight for his job despite winning a state title. DeSoto should still be solid on defense, with six starters returning, including three elite senior DBs in Arkansas commit Bryan Hanspard and German and Gemon Green, both of whom committed to Michigan. Only two offensive starters remain, but at least that includes senior Kelan Walker (836 yards and 16 TDs rushing), a Houston commit.

Edna Karr

Location: New Orleans
2016 record: 15-0, state 4A champion
2016 Super 25 final ranking: No. 20

Quick take: The Cougars have won back-to-back state titles and though they graduated some key players, most notably QB Aldon Clark, who signed with Arkansas State and WR Racey McMath, who signed with LSU, they do return junior DB Devin Bush and two Memphis commits in OL Titus Jones and DB Quindell Johnson.


Location: Loganville, Ga.
2016 record: 14-1 and state AAAAAAA champion
2016 Super 25 final ranking: No. 7

Quick take: The Rams graduated a lot of talent, but a lot remains from championship team, particularly on defense, which is led by elite junior LB Owen Pappoe (76 tackles) and senior LB Solomon Egbe (63 tackles), along with junior DB Jalen Alexander.

Another key player is senior DE Ryan Taylor, who has committed to Arkansas State. The offense is led by QB D.J. Irons, who transferred from Gainesville. Two of his likely targets will be senior Mahari Stribling, a younger brother of former Michigan WR Channing Stribling and senior WR Jaquavious Lane, who was a standout in the state championship. The Rams’ schedule includes games with Alabama 7A champion Hoover and Alabama 6A champion Ramsay (Birmingham) as well as perennial power John Curtis Christian (River Ridge, La.).

Henry Wise

Location: Upper Marlboro, Md.
2016 record: 14-0 and state 4A champion
2016 Super 25 final ranking: No. 25

Quick take: The Pumas have won 28 consecutive games and back-to-back state titles. The top player returning is senior DB-WR A.J. Lytton (19.7 yards per catch), who has committed to Florida State. Wise also returns QB Jabari Laws (2,401 yards and 38 TDs passing and 14 TDs rushing), who has committed to Army and senior DB-WR Demetri Morsell. Wise may be able to rely on its defense, which had eight shutouts last season.


Location: Portland, Ore.
2016 record: 12-1 and 6A quarterfinalist
2016 Super 25 final ranking: Not ranked

Quick take: The Crusaders will turn senior RB Trey Lowe (1,765 yards, 34 touchdowns rushing in eight games), along with senior Ennis Ferguson (1,487 yards and 19 TDs rushing) and junior QB Will Spitznagel. Throw talented sophomore RB-LB Andy Alfieri into the mix. The defense is led a solid linebacking group that includes senior LB Isaiah Henderson-Brazie and juniors Colin McMahon and Zach Carr. Another key defender is speedy senior DB Briceton Branch.


Location: Kimberly, Wis.
2016 record: 14-0 and Div. I state champion
2016 Super 25 final ranking: No. 24

Quick take: The Papermakers have won four consecutive state titles and have the nation’s longest current winning streak at 56 games. Their top returner is senior RB D.J. Stewart (2,000 yards and 32 TDs rushing), a North Dakota State commit.

La Salle

Location: Cincinnati
2016 record: 13-2 and Div. II state champion
2016 Super 25 final ranking: Not ranked.

Quick take: The Lancers won their third consecutive state title last season but have a new coach in Pat McLaughlin. The top player back is senior TE Josh Wyhle (40 catches for 546 yards and six touchdowns), who has committed to Cincinnati. Two other key returnees on offense are senior QB Griffin Merritt (1,930 yards and 21 TDs) and sophomore RB Cameron Porter. The top defenders back are three juniors: LBs Brody Ingle and Garret Bledsoe and DB Jared Uran (50 tackles), along with senior DE-LB Zach Rumpke (66 tackles, 5.5 sacks). The Lancers open up with state Division I semifinalist Colerain (Cincinnati). They will also play host to Kentucky 6A semifinalist Scott County (Georgetown, Ky.) and will play Cincinnati toughs Moeller and St. Xavier (which won the Div. I title) on the road.


Location: Scottsdale, Ariz.
2016 record: 14-0 and state 4A champion
2016 Super 25 final ranking: No. 18

Quick take: The Sabercats are looking to win their fifth consecutive state title. They return senior QB Max Massingale (2,291 yards and 30 TDs passing, 1,012 yards rushing and 12 TDs rushing), an Air Force commit.

His top receivers are senior Zach Wilson (24 catches for 401 yards and six TDs), senior Giovanni Miranda (19 catches for 336 yards and five TDs and three INTs) and senior WR Logan Pettijohn (16 catches for 238 yards). The top returning defenders are senior DB-RB Josiah Bradley (424 yards, eight TDs rushing, 25 tackles, three INTs) and senior LB Carter Koziol (33 tackles).

St. Xavier

Location: Cincinnati
2016 record: 10-5 and state Div. I champion
2016 Super 25 final ranking: Not ranked

Quick take: The Bombers return 11 starters, including senior QB Chase Wolf (1,291 yards and 15 TDs passing, 135 yards and three TDs rushing), a Wisconsin commit, senior OL Evan Deters and WR-Ret Cameron Specht (68 catches, 1,200 all-purpose yards). Keep an eye on sophomore OL Paris Johnson, who is 6-7 and 260 pounds. The Bombers have another talented receiver in WR Andrew Wittrock (50 catches for 569 yards and nine TDs). The top returning player on defense is senior DE Blake Bacevich (56 tackles, 5.5 sacks), who has committed to Cincinnati. Other key defenders: senior DE Bobby Jefferson II (53 tackles, six sacks); junior LB Will Childs (86 tackles, 6.5 sacks) and senior DL Sean Mesue.


Location: Louisville
2016 record: 15-0 and 6A state champion
2016 Super 25 final ranking: No. 16

Quick take: The Shamrocks captured their 24th state title last season. Returning from that team are two junior RBs who were effective in limited action last season: Geremiah Smith, who averaged 9.9 yards a carry last season; and Luke McGuire, who averaged 10.2 yards a carry in limited action. The receiving corps is led by senior WR Rondale Moore, a Texas commit (20 catches for 464 yards and nine TDs).

Key returnees on defense include junior DE Stephen Herron (34 solo tackles, 3.5 sacks) and senior LB Ethan Hull (29 solo tackles). The Rocks open with three tough games: Indiana 6A champion Carmel; Warren Central (Indianapolis), an Indiana 6A quarterfinalist; and traditional Ohio power Moeller (Cincinnati).


Location: Huber Heights, Ohio
2016 record: 11-1-1, Div. I regional finalist
2016 Super 25 final ranking: Not ranked

Quick take: Junior QB Rashad McKee (2,260 yards and 27 TDs passing, 377 yards and one TD rushing) will have plenty of weapons at his disposal, led by elite senior WR L’Christian Smith (43 catches for 736 yards and nine TDs).

The defense is led by senior DL Alex Reigelsperger, a three-year starter and Kentucky commit, along with elite senior LB Antwuan Johnson.  Tough opponents include a game at Pine-Richland (Gibsonia, Pa.) and a home game with state semifinalist Liberty (Oletangy).


Location: Atlanta
2016 record: 11-4 and state AAAAAAA semifinalist
2016 Super 25 final ranking: Not ranked

Quick take: The Lions lost DL Jaden Hunter to Georgia and DB A.J. Terrell to Clemson, but return 17 starters. Junior quarterback Jayvaughn Burch (1,203 yards and 17 TDs passing, 539 yards and three TDs rushing) is a key returnee, along with nine players who were first team Region 2-AAAAAAA last season: senior DB-LB Tyrese Ross, who has committed to Mississippi State; senior OL Mike Neal; senior LB-LS Devin Olawumi; senior K James Miller; senior DT Dierre Beck; junior WR Amir Spivey (27 catches for 247 yards and three TDs); senior WR Adrian Bryant (16 catches for 326 yards and four TDs); RB-LB Asher Spivey; and senior DB Myles Sims, who has committed to Michigan.


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