Comparing national high school football Top 25 polls

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I’ve always enjoyed national high school football Top 25 rankings.  It was a big deal for me and the rest of Pennsylvania when USA TODAY crowned Berwick as its mythical national champ in 1983, which was the second year of the Super 25 and the first of three times that the Bulldogs captured a “mythical” national title

We all know that there’s no exact way to rank teams.  Yes, I say that, even though we’ve spent the better part of the last four years tweaking our algorithm that we use to create our national, regional and local rankings.  We’re proud of what we’ve developed.  I truly believe that our computer ranking is the best out there, and we continue to tweak the algorithm.  I also respect the computer rankings produced by our partner at USA TODAY High School Sports and MaxPreps.  The biggest difference between the aforementioned media outlets and High School Football America is that I’ve chosen not to do an opinion poll, along side our algorithm rankings.  We did an opinion poll in 2012, but have been all computer since 2013.

With that as the backdrop, I thought today would be a good day to compare and contrast the five national polls that have been released, so far (see below).  Once the season begins, we will also do our media compilation poll, which will include all that produce a national Top 25.

Our #1 preseason team is St. John Bosco from Bellflower, California.  The Braves are one of eight teams that appear in all five polls.  Bosco also gets a #1 preseason ranking by USA TODAY’s Massey Rankings.

On the other side of the coin, both USA TODAY and MaxPreps tapped St. Thomas Aquinas from Fort Lauderdale, Florida as their #1 team in their respective opinion polls.  High School Football America has the Raiders ranked #7 in our algorithm ranking, which compares to a #2 ranking in the MaxPreps’ computer ranking.  St. Thomas Aquinas doesn’t appear in USA TODAY’s Preseason National Computer Rankings Top 25.

If you compare our algorithm ranking to USA TODAY’S Super 25 that is created by longtime high school sports journalist Jim Halley, you’ll find 16 of our teams are also in the Preseason Super 25.  Thirteen of our teams also appear in the USA TODAY Top 25 computer rankings.  Comparing us with MaxPreps opinion Top 25, High School Football America has 18 teams in Mitch Stephens‘ rankings versus 15 in MP’s computer rankings.

Bottom line, there isn’t an exact science to ranking high school football teams.  They’re fun and meant to give fans something to talk about.  Remember, don’t get mad at us, we’re here to promote the student-athletes, that’s the beauty of the rankings.

Team HSFA USAT MP USAT Computer MP Computer
St. John Bosco (CA) 1 20 9 1 11
IMG Academy (FL) 2 4 4 14 3
Cedar Hill (TX) 3 5 5 NR 12
Mater Dei (CA) 4 14 6 8 7
Bishop Gorman 5 2 3 5 1
Katy (TX) 6 12 13 4 16
St. Thomas Aquinas (FL) 7 1 1 NR 2
Grayson (GA) 8 2 2 19 NR
Cibolo Steele 9 NR 12 NR NR
DeMatha (MD) 10 9 19 10 10
Pittsburgh Central Catholic (PA)) 11 17 15 NR NR
Miami Central (FL) 12 NR 16 25 NR
St. Joseph Regional (NJ) 13 NR NR 24 18
Allen (TX) 14 18 NR NR NR
Roswell (GA) 15 NR 7 NR 21
Don Bosco Prep (NJ) 16 24 NR 17 NR
Westlake (TX) 17 NR NR NR 14
Mallard Creek (NC) 18 13 10 NR NR
Northwestern (SC) 19 NR 17 NR 13
Colerain (OH) 20 7 14 6 9
Lake Travis (TX) 21 10 20 20 8
Center Grove (IN) 22 NR NR 18 NR
Good Counsel (MD) 23 NR NR NR NR
McGill-Toolen (AL) 24 11 NR NR NR
Trinity Christian Academy (FL) 25 NR 18 NR 4



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About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.