Nick Stevens

How I voted: Preseason HSOT Top 20

Posted August 8

Trent Pennix (6) of Sanderson High School.  Sanderson High School traveled to Middle Creek High School for the second round of the football play-offs.  Top seed Middle Creek defeat Sanderson 45-7 to advance to the third round of the play-offs.

Photo by:  Suzie Wolf

Don't you love the smell of preseason football polls in the morning?

HighSchoolOT.com released the preseason Top 20 Poll on Tuesday morning, which is sure to cause a stir on the HighSchoolOT Forums, right?

Let's start this off by saying it's a preseason poll and we're obviously basing it off of last season, who we know is coming back, expectations, etc. I suspect there will be lots of changes in the first few weeks. There always are.

For me, the top team in the poll was easy. I knew I was going with Wake Forest. How could I go with anyone else? The Cougars won the 4-AA state championship last season in the most dominant way. This year, 17-of-22 starters from that team are back. The Cougars have college-level talent all over the field and a quarterback who is something like 28-1. His only loss was to Page in the 2015 state playoffs.

That's impressive.

I went with Scotland County next, although there are a handful of teams that I could have gone with -- literally any of the first seven. When you have a top-rated running back like Zamir White though, it gives you a little advantage I think.

Sanderson was my third pick, and I'll be honest, it was hard. I believe tradition plays a big role in high school sports. Look at who the top teams are year after year, and while there may be a blip on the radar here or there, most of the time the top teams are the same. Sanderson has not traditionally been one of the top teams. Head coach Ben Kolstad has changed that over the last few years though, and this group of seniors is special. I think Sanderson is the favorite to win the Cap 7 Conference, and I will be surprised if they don't make a decent run come playoff time.

Heritage I put at No. 4. The Huskies also return a wealth of talent. And to be honest, I would have put Sanderson and Heritage on the same line if I could, but I can't. We'll get this one decided early on though as they play in a non-conference game.

Richmond County, Cape Fear and Garner were the ones that rounded out my top seven. Again, in my opinion these could go in any order and all make sense.

I always think preseason polls are best looked at as tiers and not ranks. The top several are usually on the same level, then there's a tier just below them, then another tier, and so on. Like I said, these will change drastically over the first few weeks.

If you're still reading, here is my ballot from the preseason HighSchoolOT.com Top 20 Poll:

1. Wake Forest
2. Scotland County
3. Sanderson
4. Heritage
5. Richmond County
6. Cape Fear
7. Garner
8. Tarboro
9. Pinecrest
10. Havelock
11. Laney
12. Lee County
13. New Hanover
14. Hillside
15. Cardinal Gibbons
16. Seventy-First
17. D.H. Conley
18. Northeastern
19. Southeast Raleigh
20. Holly Springs

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