El Camino Tops Pre-Season Rankings

This is the annual JC Grid-Wire Pre-Season Top 30 as selected by publisher Hank Ives, with input this year from JCFootball.com publisher Kevin Lustgarten. The weekly Top 25 will be published every week of the season as part of the JCFootball.com/Scout.com Total Access Pass, and for JC Grid-Wire offline subscribers.

"Picking the junior college rankings in August and hoping they faintly resemble the same list in December is not only ridiculous, but virtually impossible," says Ives, like he does every year. "It has been suggested more than once that I need to have my head examined. With that in mind I asked my new partner, Kevin Lustgarten, head honcho of JCFootball.com, to serve as impromptu medic while lending his expertise to the package."

Here's t he Top-30 with last year's record and where they finished in the final 2006 Grid-Wire rankings.

  1. El Camino (12-2), 2nd - John Featherstone's defending California champions are loaded at every position. No apparent weaknesses. Sophomore QB Boo Jackson leads the way and he could be a super. The Warriors host Grossmont in opener then go to Bakersfield. Survive that, win it all.
  2. San Francisco (10-2), 6th - George Rush's Rams are always there or thereabouts. How about 52-7 over the past five years? Haven't been numero uno for awhile though, so watch out. They have possibly the best band of wide-receivers among nation's JCs.
  3. Butler (11-1) 10th - Press Taylor at QB is the key. He is Zac's (Nebraska, now trying out with Tampa Bay) little brother. Hosting Kilgore in the opener is no walk in the park. Oct. 6 annual battle with Coffeyville should tell the tale. Head coach Troy Morrell is 73-10 in his seven years there.
  4. Pearl River (10-2) 11th - The Wildcats went to the NJCAA title game last year and lost to Blinn. Coach Tim Hatten has his cap set on winning it all in '07 behind a tough as nails defense. WR Roger Frazier was a 1,000-yard receiver at Hutchinson in 2005 and WR Ellis Krout, a Gavilan (Calif.) transfer, should create joy in the PRCC camp. Their record has been 30-2 in the last three years.
  5. Bakersfield (11-2) 8th - If the Renegades get by Reedley and El Camino in first two games watch out. QB Jacob Bower, 6-3, 238, bounceback from BYU, is the key and he has a pair of brilliant receivers in Attrail Snipes and Brandon Banks. Jeff Chudy’s defense is loaded. This may be a return to the glory years for the Gades.
  6. Grossmont (10-2) 9th - J.C. Grid-Wire national champs in 2005 didn’t lose much last year, going 10-2. Lost opener 13-10 to Mt. SAC and closer 13-6 to Bakersfield. Mike Jordan seems to have reloaded and Griffins are in the hunt for top spot. Heck of a defensive line.
  7. Santa Rosa (10-1) 7th - Annually among the top offensive teams in the country, throwing the ball nearly every down. They had better be again this year since only one defensive starter returns. QB Greg Alexander and WRs Aubrey Quarles, Amos Carter and Marty Ponzo in the slot means lots of scoring. Keith Simons is always optimistic and for good reason. On paper, his squad and CCSF are the teams to beat in NorCal.
  8. Blinn (12-0) 1st - Defense will be the name of the game for the defending national champs. Losses were heavy on the offensive side, but Brad Franchione is a recruiting guru and coaching whiz. Should be the team to beat in SWJCFC at least.
  9. Fresno (8-3) 17th - Tony Caviglia thinks he has the best team in his eight years in Ramsville. Much depends upon transfer QB Derek Shaw, a 6-4, 210-pounder. "We had our best Spring ever," said Caviglia. Allan Hancock, San Francisco and Sacramento make for an extremely tough non-conference schedule.
  10. Saddleback (11-1) 3rd - Mark McElroy's team came within two points of playing for the California title last year and should be in the championship hunt again in ’07. A slick running game will feature speedy Andrew Nakihei and Cheyne Verhagen, who returns from a 2-year LDS mission.
  11. Snow (11-1) 4th - Steve Coburn's Badgers again look like the class of the WSFL, but contention should run a bit deeper with Glendale, Arizona Western, Eastern Arizona, and Scottsdale all being threats. Phoenix has been rising as well.
  12. Mt. San Antonio (9-2) 12th - Bob Jastrab may have corralled the best JC coaching staff in the business. Former Palomar and San Diego State HC Tom Craft is on staff. His son Kevin transfered from SDSU and stands a good chance of winning the QB job. Mt. SAC is always tough.
  13. Georgia Military (8-3) NR - Bert Williams has built a perennial winner. The Bulldogs will play anyone, anywhere, anytime, but don’t get enough opportunities. Prospects who transfer out of GMC to D1 programs seem to do very well. Well coached and prepared. Williams has a real 'program' going in Georgia.
  14. Sequoias (7-4) NR - Loaded with talent like last year. Now if Curtis Allen can get them all playing on the same page, then watch out. Could well be the fastest overall team in the nation. Can Wash. State transfer, QB Arkelon Hall, win the job and propel the team to a Valley Conference title? We'll see.
  15. Coffeyville (7-4) NR - Win the opener vs. defending national champs Blinn and then knock off Butler, Oct. 6 for the first time in umpteen years, may be a too tall order for the Red Ravens. But they come to play every week. Talent is never an issue.
  16. Palomar (6-5) NR - Comets lost five games in '06, none by more than 7 points. Sept. 8 at Grossmont will prove San Diego area bragging rights.
  17. Moorpark (9-2) 13th - Raiders must tangle with Mission Conference biggies, Santa Ana and Saddleback in the first two weeks. Changing WSC divisions change should be a big help. coach Jim Bittner's squads have played the Mission teams tough and don't fold.
  18. Cisco (6-4) NR - This team could be the surprise of the year. Virtually the entire starting lineup returns. 1,000-yard rusher Jacques Crawford will be at safety. SWJCFC coaches picked Cisco to finish 2nd in their annual pre-season poll.
  19. Jones County (6-3) NR - The Bobcats closed with three losses last year, but have some nice talent coming back. Their defense looks especially solid. There's some buzz around Jones in Mississippi.
  20. San Mateo (6-4) 20th - The NorCal Conference will be rugged, especially at the top, but the Bulldogs appear capable of holding their own. They lost some close ones in '06. Superb WRs, strong OL, returning QB. Linebackers are a strength. Good play in the secondary will be key.
  21. Copiah-Lincoln (9-2) 14th - Co-Lin beat Pearl River 31-21 and lost 21-20 to gain considerable respect. Wolves will be young, but had a great recruiting year. A darkhorse team that could run to the top of Mississippi if PRCC falters.
  22. Foothill (10-1) 5th - Coming off a 10-1 season with heavy personnel losses, plus former HC Marshall Sperbeck and several assistants left for 1AA Sacramento State. They're always a contender though. New HC Doug Boyett has been on staff and can uphold the winning tradition.
  23. Sierra (6-5) NR - Jeff Tisdel is back as head coach after a year off. Carl Moore might be as good as they get at WR. Wolverines at the very least will make life miserable for Valley Conference foes.
  24. Mississippi Gulf Coast (7-2) 26th - Nine starters return, mostly in the offensive and defensive lines. Most coaches say that’s where it all starts.
  25. Garden City 6-4) NR - Perennial contenders in Kansas. Might handle all but Butler and Coffeyville. Some nice talent, but not enough for a title shot.
  26. Joliet (9-2) 22nd - Thirteen starters back from a 7-4 bowl team. Purdue transfer Christian Graham leads four WR spread. Excellent recruiting year. Sleeper.
  27. Riverside (5-5) NR - Bill Brown's Tigers keep improving each year and one of these days will break through with a playoff worthy effort. Mission folks hate to play them.
  28. Arizona Western (5-6) NR - Loaded with talent, on paper. But how will they play together as a team? Coach James Pryor has done a terrific job of recruiting. Looks like a ton of D1 prospects on hand. Hawaii transfer William Brogan will probably start at QB. He was a top scout teamer in '06 for the Rainbow Warriors.
  29. Pasadena (3-7) NR - Definitely a sleeper. Might be ranked higher if not for the fact they haven't done very well in recent years. Everyone who played them in '06 raves about elusive QB David Pittman. They were very much a freshman squad last year. Some out-of-state transfers will help, too.
  30. Lackawanna (10-0) 15th - Stands a great chance of being the Beast of the Northeast. Nice upset win over Glendale in the Valley of Sun Bowl shows they can play with the best of 'em.

OTHER TEAMS TO WATCH: Reedley, Orange Coast, N.E. Mississippi, Cerritos, Santa Ana, N.W. Mississippi, Scottsdale, Sacramento, Nassau, Grand Rapids, Canyons, Allan Hancock, Glendale, Az., Navarro, Iowa Central, Erie, Eastern Arizona, Hutchinson, Fullerton

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