Will USC keep their entire recruiting class together?
The Trojans have a class for the ages and have already filled al 18 of their allotted slots for the year. In fact, if you count recent Penn State transfer Silas Redd, USC is actually one over their limit. The Trojans are still recruiting a handful of players from all over the country so it will be interesting to see exactly what players sign with them come February. Will a few current commitments look elsewhere fearing playing time could be hard to come by, could a player or two be asked to grey-shirt or will be a player simply be recruited over? It will be one of the most fascinating recruiting developments to follow in years.
Will De La Salle four-peat?
The Spartans have won 20-straight CIF-NCS titles, three straight CIF State Open
Division titles, and four of the last five. In fact, since the CIF State Bowl
games were introduced in 2006, the Spartans are the only team to have played in
all six, losing the D-I games in 2006 and 2008. But the last three years,
ever since trailing Crenshaw 14-0 in the first half of the 2009 game, the
Spartans have been on a tear, scoring 28 unanswered against Crenshaw to win in
2009, rolling over Servite in 2010 and then crushing Westlake in 2011, all three
teams being unbeaten before falling to the Spartans. The man who led the
Spartans' offense, Bart Houston, is graduated, now a freshman at Wisconsin. But
arguably the best linebacker corps in the West anchors the Spartans defense, led
by Michael Hutchings, D.J. Moffitt and Victor Egu, as well as defensive linemen
Austin Hooper and junior Sumner Houston, Bart's younger brother. So while
the Spartans may not have the offensive weapons of a year ago, they have an even
better defense, and oh yeah, they have Coach Bob Ladouceur, who's had a little
success with the Spartans. -Huffman
Will Bellevue and Skyline repeat as the 3A/4A state champions in Washington for the fourth time in five years?
Bellevue has won the Washington 3A state title nine of the last eleven years and should coast to number title number ten. Bellevue is known for discipline and great coaching, but it doesn’t hurt that they have college level talent at nearly every position on the field. The senior class includes prospects like four-star OLB Myles Jack (UCLA commit), three-star MLB Sean Constantine (Washington commit), CB Reuben Mwehla (Idaho commit), WR Ari Morales, DL David Freeman and S Michael Carlson. However, you could argue the best prospect on the roster is 2014 S Budda Baker. Skyline has won a state title five of the last seven years and will have more competition in 4A than Bellevue does in 3A. Skyline will lean heavily on the arm of the nation’s top rated quarterback, USC commit Max Browne. Browne has plenty of talent around him on offense, led by WR Nic Sblendorio, TE Isaiah Richmond and WR Trevor Barney. The Spartans should also be solid on defense with a pair of college level linebackers in Washington State commit MLB Peyton Pelluer and OLB Devin Benford. -Worthen
Can Chaparral win a fourth straight state title?
They break in a new head coach and offensive coordinator. They also
have to replace three-year starting quarterback Connor Brewer, who's now at
Texas, and all-everything state player of the year Davonte' Neal, who's now at
Notre Dame. They do have some talent back, though, especially at receiver
in Jake Roh and in 2014 tight end Trevor Wood. Their first two games will be
nice tests, against Tucson Salpointe Catholic and Tempe Marcos De Niza, which
features the top player in Arizona, Priest Willis, before their regular season
concludes against fellow state champion Scottsdale Saguaro. -Jewell
Can Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne hang with the best from Southern Section?
The Gauchos have been an L.A. City power for years and led by elite quarterback Troy Williams, steamrolled to the city title last season. They have a ton of talent coming back and have a brutal schedule set up. They open up with a solid Palos Verdes (Calif.) squad and then have Long Beach Poly (Calif.), Lakewood (Calif.), Gardena (Calif.) Serra and Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei over the next four weeks. If Narbonne can somehow make it out of that group un-beaten, they'll have a great chance to become just the second city team to play for a state championship.
Can the Marmonte League hang in the Pac-5?
For years, people in the Southland have wanted to see if the top league in
Ventura County could hang with the big boys in the Pac-5. This year,
they'll get their chance. The "Big Three" of the Marmonte League are as
good as any top three you'll find in Southern California, with Westlake, Oaks
Christian and St. Bonaventure. All three teams have played in a CIF State
Bowl game, and Oaks Christian won one in 2006 and St. Bonaventure won it in 2007
and 2008. That said, the Oaks and St. Bonaventure wins were in D-III and
Westlake's lone trip was a shutout loss to De La Salle a year ago (although, it
wasn't as demoralizing as Servite's loss the year before). This year, the
Marmonte League is split into two divisions, with St. Bonaventure and Westlake
in one and Oaks Christian in the other, and there will be a league title game
featuring the division winners in the last regular season weekend. Then
its on to the Pac-5 playoffs. St. Bonaventure is the only one of the three
that has been willing to step up and play the top programs in the Southland,
having played, and beaten, Long Beach Poly and Corona Centennial. Westlake
and Oaks will play two of NorCal's best in Granite Bay and Del Oro in Week Zero
and Week One, so they'll not be foreign to it. But the Pac-5 playoffs will
be the real test for them in Year One.
Who is the best team in the State of Oregon?
Oregon is as loaded with college talent as any year in recent memory and a majority of that talent is concentrated on just four powerhouse programs. Aloha, Central Catholic, Jesuit and Sheldon could all make a claim to be the top team in the state. Aloha features the top player in the state, RB Thomas Tyner (Oregon commit), as well as OL Brayden Kearsley (BYU commit) and TE/DE Bryson Sullivan. Central Catholic should have one of the best defenses in the state with S Dallin Leavitt (BYU commit), LB Xavier Griggs and 2014 DE Connor Humphreys. Sheldon graduated a ton of talent, but RB/S Connor Strahm and TE/DE Mike Ralston will try and repeat last year’s success. All that said, my pick for the top team in the state has to be Jesuit. Jesuit boasts a line full of college prospects in OG Andrew Kirkland (Washington commit), OG Doug Brenner and OT Max Rich. The Crusaders also have talent at the skill positions in RB A.J. Glass, 2014 TE Henry Mondeaux and 2014 ATH Christian Martinek.
Is there a team that can challenge Bishop Gorman?
Apparently not, considering they were forced out of league play, will not be
allowed to play in the state playoffs and face a national schedule this year for
five of their games. Their first four games will be a gauntlet, opening
with Good Counsel (MD), St. Louis (HI), Bergen Catholic (NJ), and Servite (CA).
They feature the top two players in the state, 2013 quarterback Anu Solomon and
2014 running back/safety Nathan Starks, so the Gaels biggest tests will likely
come in those national games, and not in their state games. -Jewell
The West Recruiting Team includes National Recruiting Analyst Greg Biggins (@GregBiggins), National Recruiting Analyst and West Regional Manager
@BrandonHuffman), Southwest Recruiting Analyst Jason Jewell (@jason247scout) and Northwest Recruiting Analyst Jake Worthen (@JakeWorthen).