SBLive Power 25: Miami Central returns to national football rankings after 6A Florida state title win

The 2020 high school football season continued across the country this week with 15 SBLive Power 25 teams taking the field.

Fourteen of the squads that were included in last week’s Power 25 won, with the exception of Norcross (Ga.) who fell to No. 4 Grayson (Loganville, Ga.) 28-0 in the Georgia 7A state semifinals. With the defeat, Norcross exits the rankings and is replaced by Central (Miami, Fla.), the newly crowned 6A champion in Florida.

Undefeated teams from Arkansas, Colorado and Tennessee all won state titles, but narrowly missed out on a Power 25 ranking this week. As some current Power 25 teams go on to lose in their postseasons, those state champions will be strongly considered for inclusion in the coming weeks.

Read the full breakdown of this week’s Power 25 below, including an in-depth look at why we rank the Florida state champions in the order that we do.

SBLIVE POWER 25: PRESEASON | WEEK 1 | WEEK 2 | WEEK 3 | WEEK 4 | WEEK 5 | WEEK 6 | WEEK 7 | WEEK 8 | WEEK 9 | WEEK 10 | WEEK 11 | WEEK 12 | WEEK 13 | WEEK 14 | WEEK 15 | WEEK 16

The SBLive Power 25 rankings are compiled by SBLive reporter Connor Morrissette based on observations and conversations with an extensive network of coaching and media sources across the country.

As with everything in the COVID-19 era, the rankings will be fluid week-to-week and only include teams that are scheduled to play football in 2020. We will publish separate rankings in 2021 for all schools scheduled to play football from January through May.

Here are the 35 states playing football in 2020: Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, Texas, Utah, Indiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Kansas, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Maine, Wisconsin, South Carolina, New Jersey, Michigan, Delaware, Minnesota, Colorado and Louisiana.

Here are the states and districts that have officially moved high school football to 2021: California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Illinois, Maryland, Hawaii, Rhode Island, New York and Vermont.

sblive power 25

Dec. 20, 2020

1. IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.), 8-0

Next game: Season complete

Last result: 41-6 win over TRU Prep Academy (Miami Gardens, Fla.)

Last week’s ranking: No. 1

Ranking rationale: IMG started the year at No. 1 and that’s where they finish.

Running back Kaytron Allen rushed 14 times for 245 yards and five touchdowns in their final regular season win over TRU Prep Academy. Senior quarterback JJ McCarthy didn’t play for unspecified reasons, but the Ascenders still rolled.

IMG has six players listed in the top 50 of 247Sports.com’s 2021 Florida recruiting rankings and nine listed on the website’s top 50 for 2022. No one in the country playing in 2020 can compete with that type of roster.

img qb jj mccarthy
IMG quarterback JJ McCarthy

2. North Shore (Houston, Texas), 12-0

Next game: Dec. 24 vs. No. 15 Tompkins (Katy, Texas) (6A Division 1 playoffs)

Last result: 38-7 win over Dawson (Pearland, Texas) (6A Division 1 playoffs)

Last week’s ranking: No. 2

Ranking rationale: North Shore won big over Dawson in their second round playoff game so they stay at No. 2 this week. The Mustangs have won ten of their 12 games by at least 26 points in 2020.

North Shore is 41-1 over the last three seasons. They’ve won two 6A Division 1 championships in a row in Texas. North Shore’s best player is 2021 QB Dematrius Davis, an Auburn signee.

3. Chandler (Ariz.), 10-0

Next game: Season complete

Last result: 23-21 win over Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) (Open Division championship

Last week’s ranking: No. 3

Ranking rationale: For the second straight week, Chandler survived an upset bid in a game the Wolves probably should have lost, but a win is a win and Chandler claimed its fifth consecutive state title.

Chandler secured the state championship win when Hamilton missed a 27-yard field goal attempt with 13 seconds left, capping a hard-fought battle between the consensus top two teams in the state.

Chandler is loaded with talent, from quarterback Mikey Keene (UCF commit) to running backs Eli Sanders (Boise State commit) and Nicholas Nesbitt, plus wide receiver Jalen Richmond (Boise State commit). The Wolves have the best receiving corps in Arizona and the best defense, led by defensive end Brandon Buckner, an Oregon commit. Going undefeated in a year with many great teams in Arizona gives the Wolves the resume to finish as a top five team in the country.

Eli Sanders

4. Grayson (Loganville, Ga.), 13-0

Next game: Dec. 30 vs. Collins Hills (Suwanee, Ga.) (7A championship)

Last result: 28-0 win over Norcross (Ga.) (7A semifinals)

Last week’s ranking: No. 4

Ranking rationale: Grayson’s defense pitched its fourth shutout in its last five games on Friday. They held Norcross to just 41 yards of offense and picked off three Blue Devil passes. On offense, Miami-bound QB Jake Garcia completed 10 of 20 passes for 199 yards, two scores and two interceptions. The win cemented Grayson as the clear top team in the state since it ended Norcross’ previously undefeated season.

Grayson faces Colins Hill in two weeks in the 7A championship game, a team they beat 28-7 in the regular season. Three weeks ago, Grayson took a major hit when senior running back Phil Mafah (Clemson commit) left the Rams’ game against Tift County with a leg injury and did not return. He hasn’t played since, but Grayson has managed to win without him.

5. St. Joseph’s Prep (Philadelphia, Pa.), 6-0

Next game: Season complete

Last result: 62-13 win over Central York (Pa.) (6A championship)

Last week’s ranking: No. 5

Ranking rationale: St. Joseph’s Prep won its third straight state title in 2020. 2021 Temple commit Malik Cooper caught a touchdown, threw a touchdown and returned a punt for a score in the state championship win over Central York. Senior quarterback Kyle McCord, an Ohio State commit, threw four touchdowns. Marvin Harrison Jr., another Ohio State commit, caught two of the scores.

St. Joseph’s Prep will go down as one of the best Philadelphia-area high school football teams of all time, according to Phil Anastasia of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

“The victory cemented the legacy of the Hawks’ seniors as arguably the best class in school history. They are the first team from the city to win three state titles in a row, and the first to three-peat in the state’ largest classification since Central Bucks West in 1997-1999.”

6. Corner Canyon (Draper, Utah), 14-0

Next game: Season complete

Last result: 45-7 win over Lone Peak (Highland, Utah) (6A championship)

Last week’s ranking: No. 6

Ranking rationale: In 2020, Jaxson Dart put together one of the best regular seasons from a high school quarterback we’ve ever seen. In ten games, the senior completed 68 percent of his passes for 3,345 yards and 48 touchdowns. He threw just two picks.

In the playoffs, Dart kept up that level of production as he led the Chargers to a 14-0 state title run. In the championship game, Dart completed 25 of 36 passes for 329 yards and four scores. He finished the season with 67 touchdowns and only four picks. The Chargers have won three state titles in a row.

corner canyon utah football
(Jaxson Dart feature photo by @astrongphotography)

7. Thompson (Alabaster, Ala.), 14-0

Next game: Season complete

Last result: 29-28 win over Auburn (Ala.) (7A title game)

Last week’s ranking: No. 7

Ranking rationale: Thompson dominated every team they played in 2020, until they met Auburn in the state championship. The Warriors needed an improbable comeback that saw them score ten points in the final 18 seconds to win the game.

Thompson lost star quarterback Conner Harrell to injury late in the second quarter. The Warriors struggled without Harrell in the second half and entered the fourth quarter trailing 28-13.

Thompson’s Ryan Peppins’ scored on a 6-yard run to cut the lead to 28-19 with under nine minutes to play, but the Warriors couldn’t get any closer.

Then the unthinkable happened.

As Auburn was running out the clock in the final minute, they elected to punt on 4th down from their own 44-yard line with under 30 seconds to play. Thompson’s Korbyn Williams blocked the punt, scooped it up and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown. The PAT brought Thompson within two points, 28-26, with 18 seconds to play.

Thompson kicker Trevor Hardy executed a perfect onside kick, and the Warriors recovered the ball at the Auburn 48 with 15 seconds left. Thompson then picked up back-to-back pass interference penalties, moving the ball to the 18-yard line with 4 seconds to play.

Hardy trotted onto the field and booted a 35-yard field goal as time expired to win the game. Final: Thompson 29, Auburn 28.

Thompson finishes the year at No. 7. In addition to the Auburn win, the Warriors beat Hoover and Hewitt-Trussville twice in 2020, two of the best teams in the state.

Conner Harrell – Courtesy: alabama7afootball.com

8. Duncanville (Texas), 8-1

Next game: Dec. 24 vs. Westfield (Houston, Texas) (6A Division 1 playoffs)

Last result: 49-14 win over Skyline (Dallas, Texas) (6A Division 1 playoffs)

Last week’s ranking: No. 8

Ranking rationale: Duncanville had an easy time with Skyline in its second round playoff game. Quarterback Grayson James completed 13 of 17 passes for 209 yards and four TDs in the win.

Overall, seven Duncanville seniors are ranked in the top 200 of 247Sports’ 2021 in state rankings. Offensive tackle Savion Byrd (Oklahoma signee) leads the way at No. 12. We rank the Panthers as the second best team in Texas. Their lone loss came to No. 1 IMG Academy on Oct. 10, 41-14.

9. Westlake (Austin, Texas), 10-0

Next game: Dec. 26 vs. Stevens (San Antonio, Texas) (6A Division 1 playoffs)

Last result: 62-3 win over Smithson Valley (Spring Branch, Texas) (6A Division 1 playoffs)

Last week’s ranking: No. 9

Ranking rationale: Junior quarterback Cade Klubnik threw four TDs in Westlake’s playoff win over Smithson Valley. He also rushed for a touchdown.

The Chaparrals have won all ten of their games by at least four scores this season. Westlake won the 6A Division 2 title in Texas a year ago and should make a deep postseason run again in 2020. If Westlake keeps winning, they’ll most likely get their first real test of the season against North Shore in the semifinals. That game will tell us a lot more than all of these blowouts have.

Quarterback Cade Klubnik

10. Ryan (Denton, Texas), 11-0

Next game: Dec. 26 vs. Longview (Texas) (5A Division 1 playoffs)

Last result: 52-21 win over College Station (Texas) (5A Division 1 playoffs)

Last week’s ranking: No. 10

Ranking rationale: Ryan scored 52 unanswered points this week. With WR/DE Ja’Tavion Sanders (Texas), WR/DB Billy Bowman (Oklahoma), LB DJ Arkansas (Rice) and QB Seth Henigan (Memphis) all in the fold, the Raiders are one of the clear top teams in the country. Sanders caught eight passes for 216 yards on Saturday. He hauled in touchdown passes of 61 and 35 yards.

Ryan lost in the 5A Division 1 state title game last season. They’re heavy favorites to win that crown this year, but next week’s game against Longview will be a tough test.

11. Allen (Texas), 10-0

Next game Dec. 26 vs. Trinity (Euless, Texas) (6A Division 1 playoffs)

Last result: 20-16 win over South Grand Prairie (Texas) (6A Division 1 playoffs)

Last week’s ranking: No. 11

Ranking rational: Allen trailed 16-14 at halftime against South Grand Prairie and didn’t take the lead for good until there was 9:26 left in the fourth quarter. The Eagles are a very talented team, but this isn’t the first time they’ve needed late game heroics to win in 2020, something the other Texas teams ranked ahead of them in the Power 25 haven’t had to rely on this season.

Blaine Green, an Oklahoma State signee caught an 82-yard TD from General Booty for Allen in their win. 2021 WR Bryson Green (Oklahoma State), 2022 OL Neto Umeozulu and 2022 TE Omari Murdock are the other national recruits on Allen’s roster.

Following their 8-0 regular season, Allen has won 83 regular season games in a row. We rank the Eagles as the No. 5 team in Texas.

The Green twins

12. Archbishop Hoban (Akron, Ohio), 11-0

Next game: Season complete

Last result: 35-6 win over Washington (Massillon, Ohio) (Division II state championship game)

Last week’s ranking: No. 12

Ranking rationale: Archbishop Hoban ends the season as Ohio’s top team after claiming a Division 2 state title. In the championship game, senior quarterback Shane Hamm completed 9 of 10 passes for 172 yards and four scores. Kharion Davis hauled in two of the touchdowns and also had an interception.

Hoban’s best wins this year came against St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) on Sept. 5, a game they won 35-0 and their state title win over Washington.

13. Center Grove (Greenwood, Ind.), 14-0

Next game: Season complete

Last result: 38-14 win over Westfield (Ind.) (6A state championship game)

Last week’s ranking: No. 13

Ranking rationale: Undefeated Center Grove dominated Westfield in the state title game scoring all 38 points in the first half. Running back Carson Steele rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns in the win.

“I didn’t know we’d quite roll like we did,” Center Grove coach Eric Moore told Indy Star. “But that’s what we do — when we get going, we roll.”

The Trojans held all 14 of their opponents to 14 points or less in 2020. Running the ball and playing good defense was the key to Center Grove’s success in all 14 games. Their best win was a 17-13 come-from-behind victory over No. 22 Cathedral on Oct. 16.

14. Dutch Fork (Irmo, S.C.), 10-0

Next game Season complete

Last result: 28-6 win over T.L. Hanna (Anderson, S.C.) (5A title game)

Last week’s ranking: No. 14

Ranking rationale: Dutch Fork won its fifth straight state title in 2020, which set a new record in South Carolina. Here’s a state championship game breakdown from The State’s Lou Bezjak:

Dutch Fork took control of the game early, scoring on its first four possessions to take a 28-6 halftime lead.

Clemson QB commit Will Taylor and running back Jarvis Green each ran for two scores in the first half as Dutch Fork gained 327 of its 372 yards in the first two quarters.

Dutch Fork didn’t play any of their opponents closer than three scores this season. The Silver Foxes didn’t have the toughest schedule, but between their talent level and standard of excellence, they’re a clear Power 25 team.

15. Tompkins (Katy, Texas), 10-0

Next game: Dec. 24 vs. North Shore (Houston, Texas) (6A Division 1 playoffs)

Last result: 51-28 win over Cy-Fair (Texas) (6A Division 1 playoffs)

Last week’s ranking: 15

Ranking rationale: Last month, Tompkins ended Katy’s 12 year and 75 game district win streak. The Falcons followed that up with demolitions of Mayde Creek (Katy, Texas) and Seven Lakes to secure an outright District 19-6A title. In the postseason, the Falcons have kept on rolling.

In their win over Cy-Fair, Tompkins scored 38 second quarter points thanks to having four takeaways. Overall, the Falcons had three defensive touchdowns in their win.

Alabama QB commit Jalen Milroe rushed for a TD in the game, but he didn’t have to do much. He’ll be challenged much more next week against No. 2 North Shore.

16. St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), 8-1

Next game: Season complete

Last result: 31-21 win over Edgewater (Orlando, Fla.) (7A title game)

Last week’s ranking: 16

Ranking rationale: Star 2022 running back Anthony Hankerson rushed for three touchdowns in Aquinas’ semifinal win two weeks ago and three more in their state title win on Saturday.

The Raiders have six players listed in the top 50 of 247Sports’ 2021 Florida player rankings. Alabama defensive line signee Dallas Turner leads the way at No. 7.

Last year’s St. Thomas Aquinas team went 15-0 and won a 7A title in Florida. The Raiders were ranked as high as No. 3 in this year’s Power 25 before losing to No. 18 Cardinals Gibbons 17-10 on Oct. 23. On Nov. 6, Aquinas beat No. 17 American Heritage 33-23.

St. Thomas Aquinas’ title marks their 12th all-time, which is a state record in Florida. As some of the Texas teams fall in their postseasons, St. Thomas Aquinas will move up in the Power 25. They’re loaded, but the loss to Cardinal Gibbons was a definite strike against them.

17. American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.), 11-2

Next game: Season complete

Last result: 24-6 win over Rickards (Tallahassee, Fla.) (5A title game)

Last week’s ranking: 17

Ranking rationale: American Heritage won the 5A championship in Florida to cement their place in the 2020 Power 25. Sophomore running back Mark Fletcher rushed for 127 yards and a TD in the win.

Defense is where the majority of the big names are for American Heritage, led by safety James Williams (Miami signee), cornerback Earl Little Jr. and defensive end Marvin Jones Jr. Jones Jr. had four tackles for loss in the state title game.

American Heritage beat No. 18 Cardinal Gibbons 23-17 in October. They also beat Chaminade-Madonna, Northwestern and Jesuit in 2020, which makes for a great resume. Losing to Trinity Christian Academy was a surprise, but the Patriots were without quarterback Blake Murphy in that game. Keep reading for a complete overview on how we ranked the state of Florida below.

18. Cardinal Gibbons (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), 8-1

Next game: Season complete

Last result: 35-21 win over Bolles (Jacksonville, Fla.) (4A championship)

Last week’s ranking: 18

Ranking rationale: On Oct. 23 Cardinal Gibbons beat No. 16 St. Thomas Aquinas 17-10. The following week, the Chiefs lost to No. 17 American Heritage 23-17. In Gibbons’ state title win over Bolles, senior quarterback Brody Palhegyi dominated completing 27 of 32 passes for 332 yards and four TDs. This win clinched Cardinal Gibbons second state title in three seasons.

19. Central (Miami, Fla.), 8-1

Next game: Season complete

Last result: 46-0 win over Lake Minneola (6A title game)

Last week’s ranking: NR

Ranking rationale: Central stormed to a 6A championship in Florida and even though the Rockets lost their first game of the season 21-14 to Northwestern (Miami, Fla.), their playoff domination couldn’t be ignored.

2021 LB Terrence Lewis, 2021 OG Laurence Seymore (Miami signee), 2021 ATH Yulkeith Brown (Texas A&M signee), 2021 RB Amari Daniels (Texas A&M signee), 2022 LB Wesley Bissainthe and 2022 WR Zaylan Reese are all national recruits for the Rockets. Their talent level and 6A state title makes them a clear Power 25 team.

20. Bixby (Okla.), (11-0)

Next game: Season complete

Last result: 17-14 win over Choctaw (Okla.) (Class 6A-II state championship)

Last week’s ranking: 19

Ranking rationale: Following their state championship win over Choctaw (they’re third straight), the Spartans will finish the year in the Power 25. Bixby has won 36 straight games.

Junior running back Braylin Presley rushed for 206 yards in the title game, bringing his season total to 1,732 yards and 20 touchdowns. Junior linebacker Jack Puckett had two sacks on Choctaw’s final drive, which secured the win.

21. Cathedral (Indianapolis, Ind.), 13-1

Next game: Season complete

Last result: 46-28 win over Zionsville (Ind.) (5A championship)

Last week’s ranking: 20

Ranking rationale: Nathan McCahill completed 27 of 35 passes for 322 yards and five touchdowns in Cathedral’s state title win. Wide receiver Camden Jordan caught 12 passes for 91 yards and three TDs. Cathedral finished the game with 469 yards of total offense.

St. Xavier entering the rankings following their Division 1 state title in Ohio meant that Cathedral had to be ranked as well thanks to the Fighting Irish’s 25-22 head to head win on Sept. 18. Cathedral’s lone loss came to No. 14 Center Grove on Oct. 16. The Fighting Irish tried to win the game on a 4th and 1, didn’t convert and then gave up a last second touchdown.

22. Trinity (Louisville, Ky.), 10-0

Next game: Season complete

Last result: 28-0 win over Male (Louisville, Ky.) (6A championship)

Last week’s ranking: No. 21

Ranking rationale: Trinity won its second 6A state title in a row on Saturday, beating Male 28-0. Running back Bradley West scored three TDs in the victory.

Led by Cincinnati commit Jack Dingle, the Shamrocks pack a punch on defense. He’s a big reason why Trinity recorded shutouts in the quarterfinals, semifinals and championship in 2020. The Shamrocks gave up only 4.8 points per game this season.

Trinity is a very good team, but they played an easy schedule, which prevented us from seeing exactly how good of a team they are.

23. St. Xavier (Cincinnati, Ohio), 10-2

Next game: Season complete

Last result: 44-3 win over Pickerington Central (Division 1 state championship)

Last week’s ranking: 22

Ranking rationale: St. Xavier flirted with the Power 25 early in the season but losses to Brownsburg (Ind.) and No. 22 Cathedral (Indianapolis, Ind) put the Bombers off our radar. But since the defeat to Cathedral, St. Xavier rattled off eight wins in a row, culminating in their demolition of Pickerington Central in the Division 1 title game.

St. Xavier scored 30 points in the first quarter, which is more than they had put up in their previous two playoff wins combined.

“We’ve been talking all year long that one of these days we’re going to put a game together,” St. Xavier coach Steve Specht told Cincinnati.com. “If you saw us this year we score a lot of points, but we give up a lot of points. Then, at the end of the year, we weren’t giving up many points. Boy, we picked the right time to put it together!”

Brogan McCaughey threw four touchdown passes to Jalen Patterson in the win. McCaughey finished 25 of 39 for 291 yards and four TDs. Senior Penn State commit Liam Clifford had three catches for six yards, but he received a lot of Pickerington Central’s attention on defense which opened things up for McCaughey.

24. Cedar Hill (Texas), 9-1

Next game: Dec. 26 vs. Tomball Memorial (Texas) (6A Division 2 playoffs)

Last result: 45-0 win over Tyler Legacy (Texas) (6A Division 2 playoffs)

Last week’s ranking: 23

Ranking rationale: Cedar Hill shutout its postseason opponent for the second straight week on Saturday. Tennessee quarterback signee Kaidon Salter completed 18 of 25 passes for 257 yards and four touchdowns in the the Longhorns’ win over Tyler Legacy.

Cedar Hill’s loss to No. 8 Duncanville last month dropped the Longhorns a few spots in the Power 25, but since then, Cedar Hill has bounced back with four blowout wins.

Salter is Cedar Hill’s best player. 2021 Texas Tech defensive end commit Charles Esters and 2022 CB Jalon Peoples are the other two national recruits on the roster. They’ve helped lead Cedar Hill to a 9-1 record that includes wins over good Aledo and DeSoto teams.

25. Bridgeland (Cypress, Texas), 12-0

Next game: Dec. 26 vs. Rockwall-Heath (Texas) (6A Division 2 playoffs)

Last result: 47-44 win over Dekaney (4OT) (Houston, Texas) (6A Division 2 playoffs)

Last week’s ranking: 24

Ranking rationale: Bridgeland needed four overtimes to beat Dekaney on Thursday night, which may indicate that a postseason defeat is on the horizon for the undefeated Bears. Bridgeland won the game though, so this week they stay in the Power 25.

Conner Wiegman hit SMU-signee Dylan Goffney for a touchdown in the fourth overtime to win the game for Bridgeland. Goffney finished with 204 receiving yards and three touchdowns in the game.

Bridgeland’s best wins are over Shadow Creek and Cy-Fair this season.

DROPPED OUT

Norcross (Ga.)

MOVED IN

Central (Miami, Fla.)

THOUGHTS ON FLORIDA

Due to having a shortened season because of COVID-19, ranking the top high school football teams in Florida has been very difficult in 2020. The clear top four teams are St. Thomas Aquinas, American Heritage, Cardinal Gibbons and Central. 3A champion Trinity Christian Academy, 8A champion Seminole and two other Miami schools, Northwestern and Columbus, are the next four teams at the top and they are all in the Power 25 discussion. Here’s why the first grouping is ranked in the Power 25 and the second group isn’t as of Dec. 20:

The first four are all state champions. 8A champ Seminole didn’t play a tough enough schedule to be ranked and will most likely continue to miss out on the Power 25 as some of the currently ranked teams go on to lose in the playoffs. Trinity Christian Academy is the team most likely to enter the rankings in the future following their state title and regular season win over American Heritage. American Heritage is currently ranked ahead of Trinity Christian Academy despite their head-to-head 7-3 defeat in the regular season because the Patriots won a state title in a tougher classification and were without quarterback Blake Murphy in the regular season encounter with the Conquerors.

Northwestern misses out because even though they beat Central in the regular season and are loaded, they failed to get out of the second round of the 5A playoffs.

Columbus finished its season 8-0 and has a standout on each side of its line in 2021 offensive lineman Ryan Rodriguez and 2021 defensive lineman Jabari Ishmael. Both players signed with Miami. The Explorers are a very good team, but due to COVID-19 they opted out of the Florida high school football playoffs in order to guarantee more games for their players. Since they didn’t have a traditional postseason, it’s difficult to pin point exactly how good this group is from a national perspective. In a normal year, they’re probably the fifth best team in the state, but this wasn’t a normal year. Their best win is against Deerfield Beach, another very talented team who opted out of the playoffs. Columbus never got the chance to play a head to head game against one of the other seven teams in the Power 25 discussion from Florida — they’re in a similar to position to Seminole in that regard — and it most likely will cost them a place in the Power 25.

TEAMS ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

  • Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) (8-2): Hamilton’s two losses both came to No. 3 Chandler this season. The second one was a heartbreaker in the state championship game. The Huskies are a very good team, but falling twice to Chandler most likely means Hamilton won’t end the year in the Power 25.
  • Katy (Texas) (9-1): Katy’s youth showed in their 24-19 defeat to No. 15 Tompkins in early November, but they’ve bounced back with four blowout wins.
  • Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.) (5-1): Bergen Catholic’s season is over. Their one defeat came against arch rival Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) on a last second touchdown. In their final game of the year, the Crusaders beat a good St. Peter’s Prep team 22-15. With no state playoffs taking place in New Jersey, Bergen won’t get a chance at a state title, but they did win the North Jersey Super United Red League, which is the toughest in the state.

STATE CHAMPIONS THAT MAY RISE AS OTHERS FALL

As the playoffs continue in Texas and Florida, these newly crowned state champs will have a chance to move into the rankings in addition to the teams listed above if currently ranked teams slip up.

  • Bryant (Ark.) (13-0): Bryant has won 30 games in a row and finished this season with its third straight 7A title in Arkansas. The reason the Hornets continue to miss out on the Power 25 is because in their two biggest games of the year against Trinity Christian (Cedar Hill, Texas) and North Little Rock in the 7A state title game, Bryant had spells where they didn’t look like a Power 25 team. They won both games, but didn’t pass the Power 25 eye test. Due to playing a relatively easy schedule, it’s tough to properly evaluate the Hornets. Bar North Little Rock in the state championship game, teams from Arkansas have been no match for Bryant. Leaving them out is nit-picky, but when determining the best 25 teams in the country, it’s okay to nit-pick.
  • Cherry Creek (Greenwood Village) (9-0): Cherry Creek completed a perfect 9-0 state championship season after beating Valor Christian 21-0. The Bruins have three seniors ranked in the Top 10 of Colorado’s 2021 247Sports recruiting rankings. Texas tight end commit Gunnar Helm leads the way at No. 3.
  • Oakland (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) (15-0): Oakland beat Brentwood 56-33 to win a state championship in Tennessee and finish the year undefeated. 2022 running back Jordan James had 226 yards and six touchdowns in the victory. The scary thing about Oakland is that they bring back virtually every impact player next season.
  • Trinity Christian Academy (Jacksonville, Fla.) (12-1): Trinity Christian won the 3A state title in Florida 25-22 over Chaminade-Madonna and also logged a regular season win over No. 17 American Heritage. They have a very strong Power 25 resume. Their one loss on the year came in their opener against Bolles (Jacksonville, Fla.). QB Jacory Jordan and WR Marcus Burke formed a lethal partnership this season. Look for the Conquerors to be ranked in the future.

OTHER TEAMS WE’RE MONITORING

Arizona: Saguaro (season complete)

Florida: Columbus (season complete) and Seminole (season complete)

Georgia: Buford, Collins Hill and Lee County

Louisiana: St. Thomas More, De La Salle and Byrd

Michigan: Belleville and Davison

New Jersey: Delbarton (season complete)

Ohio: Chardon (season complete)

Pennsylvania: Pineland-Richland (season complete)

Texas: Highland Park, Aledo, Cedar Park, DeSoto, Spring, Tomball Memorial, Coronado, Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial, Fort Bend, Lovejoy, Argyle (season complete), Carthage (season complete) and Huntsville

SBLIVE POWER 25:

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