Football Fab 50 Countdown (26-35)

We continue the football FAB 50 count down to No. 1 with teams ranked 35-26. This group includes teams from Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, California, Florida, Illinois, Nebraska and Tennessee. We will resume the countdown Monday with Nos. 25-21.

35. Detroit Catholic Central (Mich.)

2002: 13-1, Division I state champion

Key player:
RB Derek Brooks (6-0, 185)

Analysis: The Shamrocks collected state title No. 8 last year and enters the 2003 campaign as a favorite to win No. 9. Brooks, the team's top prospect and leading rusher a year ago, rushed for 205 yards and four touchdowns in last year's state final victory over East Kentwood. DCC made a habit of starting fast, outscoring their opponents by a collective 110-24 in the first quarter. In order to get to another state final, Central Catholic will have to get past archrival Brother Rice.

34. Brookwood (Snellville, Ga.)

2002: 13-2, Class 5A runnerup

Key players:
RB Antonio Lamar (6-1, 240)
RB/KR Chris Covington (5-11, 185)
WR/CB Brent Saylor (5-11, 180)
MLB Tyler Smith (6-0, 200)
DT Clayton Cain (6-1, 255)
DT Brian Truelove (6-1, 250)

Analysis: Brookwood lost only two games last season and both were to Gwinnett County rival and FAB 50 No. 2 Parkview, which stretched its win streak to 45 games with its third straight state Class 5A title. The Broncos lost to Parkview, 28-7 in the finals. Returning to challenge again are eight starters, including five on defense, with the main graduation losses being the offensive line and quarterback. Two prolific running backs still around are Antonio Lamar (1,350 rushing yards) and Chris Covington (1,100 yards). The defensive is anchored by tackles Clayton Cain and Brian Truelove plus middle linebacker Tyler South.

33. Kentwood (Covington, Wash.)

2002: 13-1, Class 4A state champions

Key players:
QB Kalen Roy (6-0, 175)
*RB Travis Nauta (5-10, 195)
OL Leon Wroblewski (6-3, 240)
*OL Andrew Hooper (6-4, 285)
LB William Matua (6-0, 205)
LB Drew Bolinger (6-1, 190)
FB Tim Brendahls (6-3, 240)
RB/WR Casey Marz (6-1, 225)
TE Aaron Egbert (6-2, 210)

Analysis: Roy tossed three touchdown passes in last year's state final. He started the year slowly as a replacement for Carl Bonnell (now at the University of Washington), but by the time the season ended he was one of the state's best at the position. Roy lacks the size to be on very many college radar screens, but he's quick on his feet and he has a 3.94 GPA. Losing RB Wil Thompson (who has transferred) cost the Conquerors a few ranking spots in the FAB 50, but they should still be considered the team to beat in their state. Not only is Kentwood a two-time defending state champ, but it also has won 17 of its last 19 playoff games. "I am really optimistic about this group," Ingles said. "They remind me a lot of last year's team." The potential is there for the Conquerors to be extremely powerful running the ball. Two of the team's top returning players are linemen (Wroblewski and Hooper) who are big and physical. Brendahls, the fullback, is a 240-pounder and Nauta, the running back, could be 200 by the start of the season. The rest of the offensive line, however, will need to be revamped and the defensive front seven will have mostly new players, too. A major plus for Ingles is that members of an undefeated junior varsity are moving up. Last year's team lost its opening game to district rival Kentridge, which enabled it to operate with the No. 4 or No. 5 state ranking for the rest of the regular season. If this year's squad repeated that form, Ingles wouldn't be too upset. "Offensively, we're usually not the best we can be in the first game or two," he said. "But then we get it together. We've never had a losing season."

32. North Shore (Houston, Texas)

2002: 11-1

Key players:
QB Robbie Reid (6-4, 220)
DB Bug Aymond (5-11, 190)
DB Stephen James (5-10, 185)
LB Charles Robinson (6-1, 205)
DE Chris Bocard (6-0, 210)

Analysis: Following a perfect regular season, North Shore was stunned by Eisenhower, 38-37, in the first round of postseason play. North Shore figures to be in the running for a state playoff berth as it returns both its leading rusher and passer — which happens to be the same individual. QB Reid passed for 1,428 yards and 13 TDs and had a team-best 717 rushing yards with 16 scores. Of the Texas teams in the FAB 50, North Shore has the best chance of going undefeated in regular season play, but that's no given. The team faces Hastings, Madison and Pasadena, for starters. Although last year's team went 10-0, it came out ahead on three games decided by a touchdown.

31. St. Joseph's Prep (Philadelphia, Pa.)

2002: 13-0, Philadelphia Catholic League champion

Key Players:

FB/LB Brian Tracz (6-2, 235)
HB/WR Dan Jones (5-8, 165)
TE/DE Matt Parkhurst (6-3, 235)
WR/DB Greg Ambrogi (6-0, 165)
OT/DT Mike Robinson (6-0, 260)
*WR/LB Steve Quinn (6-2, 195)

Analysis: Last year was supposed to be a rebuilding season for St. Joseph's Prep. Instead, it was a banner season. The Prep rolled off 13 straight wins, including victories over a New Jersey playoff team and perennial state power Central Bucks West, which has slipped back to the pack in recent years. In order for St. Joseph's Prep to turn in another rankable season, it must find a way to replace do-everything RB/PK Pat Kaiser, who set a short-lived state record for points in a season. Coach Gil Brooks plans to turn to the speedy Dan Jones to lead the running attack. The Prep carries a 23-game win streak into the season against a beefed up schedule that includes Brooklyn (N.Y.) Poly Prep, Holy Cross (N.J.) and Baltimore (Md.) Gilman. Cardinal O'Hara is the only league opponent that is considered a serious challenger to the Hawks.

30. Millard North (Neb.)

2002: 12-1, Class A state runner-up

Key players:
OT/DT Seth Olsen (6-5, 305)
FB/LB Keith Lloyd (6-1, 240)
FS Jake Galusha (6-0, 195)
QB Adam Shada (6-1, 185)
C T.J. O'Leary (6-3, 245)
TE Brad Rocker (6-6, 240)
*DL Grant Hyjak (6-3, 265)
OL/DL Adam Schroeder (6-4, 270)

Analysis: Millard North is aiming to shake the title, "Best program in Nebraska that has never won a state title." That's right. For all the outstanding seasons at Millard North, it has never won the "big one." After an 12-0 start to last season, Millard North fell in the state final 7-6 to Southeast (Lincoln). The year before, Millard North went 11-0 before falling in the state semifinals. This Millard North team returns six starters one both side of the ball, led by All-Staters Olsen, Lloyd and Galusha. In addition to the returning starters, Millard North picked up transfer Schroeder, who played for Oklahoma power Jenks.

29. Poly (Long Beach, Calif.)

2002: 11-2, CIF Southern Section Div. I semifinalist

Key players:
WR Derrick Jones (6-0, 165)
DB Rodney Van (6-1, 180)
LB Marlin Simmons (6-0, 205)
FB/LB Jeremiah Toloumu (6-0, 230)
*RB/DB Larenzo Bursey (5-9, 185)
*LB William Alo (5-11, 195)
RB Anthony Baker (5-8, 160)

Analysis: That killer speed that makes the Jackrabbits known the world over is going to be abundant once again and will give them a chance to win their fifth CIF Southern Section title in seven years. Jones is a 10.4 sprinter in track and is a home run threat every time Poly takes a snap. Bursey and Baker also have strong breakaway potential. The problem for Lara, though, is that he may not have a quarterback like he's had the last two seasons who can really distribute the ball. The line corps also looks hard-hit by graduation, so some youngsters there are going to have to step up. Simmons, Toloumu and Alo are part of perhaps the best group of linebackers in the state and Van will head up another strong secondary. The Jackrabbits won't be playing De La Salle this year, but getting Mission Viejo isn't too much of a step down. Instead of trying to end a national record winning streak, Poly will have to settle for ending one that could be at 30. The sting of losing in last year's CIFSS semifinals to Mater Dei also could provide some effective motivation for going a bit farther this year and perhaps meeting Los Alamitos in the final.

28. Brentwood Academy (Brentwood, Tenn.)

2002: 9-3

Key players:
RB David Holbert (6-1, 230)
RB Theo Townsend (5-8, 175)
FS/QB Tyler Griffin (6-0, 180)
CB/WR Kyle Willis (6-1, 185)
*DT/OT Nick Forte (6-3, 290)
*TE/DE Barry Turner (6-4, 220)

Analysis: The Eagles have reloaded and hope to land a 10th state title for three-decade coach Carlton Flatt. Finding a new quarterback and replacing two college recruited kickers are the main concerns for a team with seven returning offensive starters and five defensive regulars on hand. The top college prospect is running back David Holbert, a bruising fullback or ground-gaining tailback. Back for his third season in the backfield is Theo Townsend. Two senior defensive backs, who also can play wide receiver, are expected to contend for the quarterback spot--Tyler Griffin and Kyle Willis.

27. Edgewater (Orlando, Fla.)

2002: 13-2, Class 6A runnerup

Key players:
DB Kenny Ingram (6-5, 200)
DB Arthur Brooks (5-11, 170)
OL Josh Tanner (6-3, 275)
LB Fabian Whylly (5-10, 195)
DL Aaron Jones Jr. (6-4, 270)
*QB Michael Dunn (6-1, 180)

Analysis: The Eagles are hoping to take one more step toward a state title after dropping a close Class 6A title game decision last year to Miami Norland. Veteran coach Bill Gierke has a mix of senior and junior talent headed by senior two-sport standout, Kenny Ingram, a defensive back who also was a starter on a state runnerup and nationally ranked basketball team. Other touted seniors returning including defensive back Arthur Brooks, offensive lineman Josh Tanner and defensive lineman Aaron Jones Jr. Edgewater faces a key test against defending state Class 4A titlist, and FAB 50 ranked Lincoln of Tallahassee.

26. Lockport (Ill.)

2002: 13-1, Class 8A state champion

Key players:
*QB Jake Christianson (6-0, 190)
*WR George Katalak (6-2, 190)
*RB Dan Brady (6-0, 175)
LB Ryan Kunce (6-1, 205)
LB Brian Lagiglia (6-2, 210)
DB Rob Weber (5-10, 170)
RB David Sliwa (5-7, 165)
DL Michael Shaub (6-1, 240)

Analysis: How about this for an assessment: Coach Kooi says this team is more talented and has more offensive threats than last year's Class 8A state championship squad. A trio of juniors is expected to lead the offense with QB Christianson, WR Katalak and RB Brady. Lockport only returns those three offensive and five defensive starters, but the team's rotation and liberal substition patterns last year allowed more a lot of players to gain experience. The area of concern for Lockport will be the offensive line, where graduation took a toll.

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