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August 10, 2011

RivalsHigh 100: No. 3 Warren Central

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Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

RivalsHigh.com has begun its 2011 countdown, ranking the teams from No. 100 down to No. 1.

We started at No. 100 on July 25 and are now down to our final three days counting down from No. 10 to No. 1. Our top team will be unveiled on Wednesday morning on Rivals Radio - two weeks from the start of the season.

After that, we will wait until Sept. 5 for the next rankings, then have them every Monday during the season.

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

In case you missed it: Previous ranking groups | Post your thoughts about No. 3 Warren Central

Top 100 countdown
No. 3 Warren Central
COACH: John Hart
LAST SEASON: 8-3
FINAL 2010 RANKING: No. 3 in Indiana

Indianapolis (Ind.) Warren Central is one of the top teams in the country. It just won't have a chance to prove it to outsiders.

Travel restrictions and - quite frankly - an unwillingness of nearby schools to play them, has left the Warriors stuck with nine games against less-than-stellar in-state opponents.

In years past, that would have eliminated the school from consideration for a national title. Not anymore.

The evolution and expansion in the coverage of high school football has introduced a map without state lines. Good - and even great - teams can be found everywhere, allowing teams from non-power states to be national players. After all, schools from New Jersey and Mississippi have claimed national championships the last two seasons.

Can Indiana - a state that always will be known for basketball first - join the group?

"We'd like to think we play a physical brand of football that can compete in any state," head coach John Hart said. "We play real football. We like to hit people. We like to be physical and punishing."

That brand of football has led the Warriors to numerous state titles, most recently in 2009. But the team is better known for its streak of four-straight championships from 2003- 2006.

This year, there is the expectation of yet another trophy.

"We have a lot of talent," Hart said. "We need to make sure we have a complete team that matches the talent."

In recent years, Warren Central has lost a few games that some thought it shouldn't have, tarnishing the reputation of one of the best public school powers in the country.

Last season, there was an early season loss to Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville and a first-round exit in the state playoffs to Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence Central.

"We took away a lot from those games," Hart said. "That doesn't mean they weren't disappointing, because they were."

This season, the team does not have an out-of-state game on its schedule - something that could negatively impact its final ranking - but Hart hopes to be more active on the national scene in future years.

"We have some pretty ridiculous rules in Indiana that keeps us from playing more games that we want to play," Hart said. "We have called pretty much everyone within the radius we are allowed to travel to and very few teams want to put us on the schedule. There are teams you have ranked that flat told us they wouldn't put us on the schedule. We have to hope that the rules change next year."

Without many in-state tests, the Warriors are fairly active in the summer passing leagues. The ability to see upper-echelon competition, even in shorts, is beneficial.

"I hate 7-on-7 tournaments," Hart said. "But we get out here to build team unity, work on some things and see what we have."

This year, the team has a lot. In fact, not even half of its talent could be seen in the summer circuit as the team has five defensive linemen that will play Division I football.

The front seven of the defense for Warren Central will be the strength of the team.

Four-star Sheldon Day, the top-rated player of the group, is headed to Notre Dame. Joining Day on the line will be a rotation of Josh Posely and Jonathan Burt, both Cincinnati commits; Darnell Smith, a Ball State commit; and Jesse Thompson.

The linebackers are solid, too.

Senior backer Jordan Wallace (Indiana) is among the vocal leaders on the team.

But he isn't just a rallying point he is a leader that the rest of the team can look to according to linebacker coach Greg Brookey.

"He is a student of the game," Brookey said. "He makes all of our calls on defense and his work ethic seperates him from a lot of players."

It is that work ethic that Brookey thinks can help mentor other players.

"Without a doubt," he said. "Jordan helps so many players get better."

One player that Brookey would like to see emulate Wallace's football-IQ is junior Tim Kimbrough.

The younger backer has already coaches blown away with his ability.

"He is a beast," Brookey said. "He is just getting back into action after an injury, but he is nasty."

Brookey also handles the college recruiting for Warren Central and says that Kimbrough is about to take off.

"He picked up an offer from Purdue last week," he said. "And Ohio State, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Florida, N.C. State, Iowa and Cincinnati are very active on him right now."

While recruiting and prospects are good indicators of the most talented teams, often those same teams do not win titles.

For Warren Central to make a move up in the RivalsHigh 100 and compete for a national title, it will need to stay healthy and impress each week.

"We have battled with injuries all summer," Hart said. "We still have some time to get healthy and we need to get there or we won't be that good."

According to Hart, injuries to Kimbrough, running back Deionte Buckley (Cincinnati), safety Jordan Shine (Purdue) and several others have slowed the team. All those players, however, will be expected to be back to full strength by the time the season gets underway.

They will need to be if the Warriors hope to keep their name on the ever-changing landscape of high school football.



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