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July 28, 2009

RivalsHigh 100 Countdown: 85-81

Rivals.com continues its 2009 countdown with teams ranked from No. 85-81.

We started at No. 100 and are releasing two groups of five teams per day, then we'll do a daily countdown from 10th to first. Our No. 1 team to be unveiled Aug. 10, two weeks from the start of the season.

After that, we will wait until Sept. 1 for the next rankings, then have them every Monday during the season.

The team rankings were compiled by high school sports managing editor Dallas Jackson, the Rivals AMP team, football recruiting analysts and the entire RivalsHigh network of publishers.

RivalsHigh 100: 100-96 | 95-91 | 90-86 | Post your thoughts on the board

Top 100 countdown
No. 85 Gainesville, Georgia
COACH: Bruce Miller
LAST SEASON: 12-1
FINAL 2008 RIVALS.COM RANKING: No. 33 in Georgia

KEEP AN EYE ON: The offensive line. The Red Elephants bring back all five starters on the o-line, which will be a strength because of game experience.
STAR POWER: The Red Elephants have at least five seniors who will play major-college football. None has received the early hype as much as Tai-ler Jones. The four-star wide receiver has decided to join teammate Daunte Carr at Stanford next year.
STRENGTHS: The skill-position players for Gainesville can play with anyone in the state. Jones, Carr, Blake Sims and Teryan Rucker will fly to make plays.
WEAKNESS: The defensive line could be a soft spot for Gainesville. It will be undersized, but coach Bruce Miller said he thinks that they will be able to move well and fly to the football. But if teams decide to pound the ball, it could wear on the undersized front seven.
NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT: "Everybody keeps telling me how good we are going to be," Miller said. "I love that the kids are getting this national attention. So long as they know we still have to go out and win all our games, I think we will be fine."

Top 100 countdown
No. 84 Garland, Texas
COACH: Jeff Jordan
LAST SEASON: 11-2
FINAL 2008 RIVALS.COM RANKING: No. 39 in Texas Class 5A

KEEP AN EYE ON: The return of junior C Gio Olvera will be key for the offense. The offensive line has some holes but Olvera, who missed his sophomore year with a knee injury, could provide stability.
STAR POWER: Growing up in Texas, most kids dream of playing for the Longhorns. Garland will feature two Texas commitments on defense in four-stars Tevin Jackson and Adrian Phillips.
STRENGTHS: The defensive side of the ball will lead Garland, which has three players who have committed to Division I schools and at least two more who will likely play in college.
EXPECTATIONS: "We have the same expectations as every year," Garland coach Jeff Jordan said. "We expect to make the playoffs; we expect to win our district; we expect to win our first playoff game."

Top 100 countdown
No. 83 Ensworth, Tennessee
COACH: Ricky Bowers
LAST SEASON: 11-1
FINAL 2008 RIVALS.COM RANKING: No. 8 in Tennessee

KEEP AN EYE ON: The return of QB Cody Tollison, who missed last season with an injury that forced the Tigers to use a running back at quarterback. Tollison's return allows coach Ricky Bowers to have a more balanced attack.
STAR POWER: Three-star running back Orleans Darkwa will be one of the highest-profile players on the team. Darkwa is looking for his first official offer, and he could end up with more than a dozen.
STRENGTHS: The strength of this team is the coach. Bowers has proven to be one of the best coaches in the state, and he will have to do a magical job navigating this season's schedule.
QUOTABLE: "Orleans is a blessed with size and strength," Bowers said of his running back. "We will see what he can do this year with the expectations placed on him. Last year he benefited from Tavaris [Jefferson] splitting the carries. This year the focus will be all on him."

Top 100 countdown
No. 82 Alta, Utah
COACH: Les Hamilton
LAST SEASON: 13-1; won Utah 5A state title
FINAL 2008 RIVALS.COM RANKING: No. 90 nationally

KEEP AN EYE ON: The quarterback. Jordan Brown, brother of former BYU player Jackson Brown, will be at the helm for the Hawks. Coach Les Hamilton said Brown will be key to their success. He also added that his QB is a total package who can run and throw. Brown threw for more than 3,300 yards with 40 touchdowns in 2008.
STAR POWER: ILB Toloa'i Ho Ching is the No. 24-ranked inside linebacker in the country. He will most likely end up at either a Mountain West or a Pac-10 school.
STRENGTHS: The return of nine starters is a rarity for Alta, and the wide receiver group may be the best to ever take the field at Alta.
THE SCHEDULE: Alta will play Cottonwood, Bingham and Timpview all in a row in 2009, and that brutal stretch will either make or break the national ranking.
RESPECT: "With Cottonwood coming up a class and Pleasant Grove being tough again, this class in Utah is right up there with any in the West," Hamilton said. "We are also hoping that Bingham goes down to [Euless] Trinity and represents well. That would go a long way to adding national respect to the state."

Top 100 countdown
No. 81 Jesuit, Oregon
COACH: Ken Potter
LAST SEASON: 10-2
FINAL 2008 RIVALS.COM RANKING: No. 4 in Oregon

KEEP AN EYE ON: TE Jacob Wark. With many teams focused on four-star WR Keanon Lowe, it could open up the field for Wark to make a lot of plays.
STAR POWER: Lowe, a Washington commit, may be the best player in Oregon this season. The 5-10 slot receiver is a burner being clocked in the 4.4s on numerous occasions.
NO SECOND THOUGHTS: "Jesuit." An emphatic answer from Dirk Knudsen, publisher of OregonPreps.com, when asked who was the best in Oregon. "It's Jesuit, and it really shouldn't be close."



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