The first MIAA-sanctioned football practices of the 2012 season begin today, and we kick off our coverage with our statewide Preseason Top 25 Poll.
To view the poll, CLICK HERE.
A few notes about the Top 25:
Roll Tide: For the second straight year, Everett begins where it ended the previous season -- No. 1. Since we began our statewide poll in 2010, Everett has maintained the No. 1 spot for all but five weeks. The Tide began that 2010 season at No. 3, took the No. 1 spot by Week 6, and has since gone 19 straight weeks as the top team in Massachusetts. It's probably worth noting that no other Greater Boston League team has been represented in the poll, with only Somerville and Malden getting sniffs in the "Last 10 out" section.
Same lead dog in the CC: In 2011, three Catholic Conference teams were in the Top 10 of the first poll, with BC High at No. 3 followed by Catholic Memorial (4), Xaverian (7) and St. John's Prep (12). This season, three Catholic Conference teams are in the Top 5, with BC High, Xaverian and Prep going 2-3-4, respectively. CM sits in the "Last 10 out".
Four of a kind: The Bay State Conference has four teams represented in the poll, most of any league, with all of the teams falling between spots 11 and 20. Defending Herget division champion Walpole leads the way at No. 11, while defending Carey champ and Division 1 Super Bowl runner-up Needham bookends it at No. 20.
Old Colony, new heights: The Old Colony League enters 2012 having lost a team to the Hockomock League for the second time in three seasons. But on the bright side, Barnstable starts this season at No. 5, the highest preseason ranking ever for an OCL team, while Bridgewater-Raynham is close behind at No. 8. The highest ranking ever for an OCL team came in Week 8 of 2011, when B-R moved up to No. 3 before getting upset by Barnstable.
Class of Central Mass: A record five teams from the Central Mass. district are in the poll, pointing to the continued rise of football outside of I-495. Leominster comes in at No. 7, the highest preseason ranking for a CMass team since St. John's of Shrewsbury entered 2010 ranked No. 5 in our poll.
Loaded Lancers: The legendary Alex Rotsko may have departed Longmeadow for the Pine Tree State, but he leaves behind a talented senior class led by linemen Rob McClure and Lou Calabrese. The Lancers also start the 2012 season with their highest ranking ever, coming in at No. 6 to best their previous starts in 2011 (10) and 2010 (17).
No MVC, DCL: For the first time ever, there is no representation from the Merrimack Valley Conference or Dual County League, perhaps a nod to the amount of parity expected in each league. In the "Last 10 out", Lincoln-Sudbury represents the DCL, while Andover represents the MVC.
Brockton downshifts: ESPN Boston's first-ever statewide preseason Top 25 poll had mighty Brockton as the No. 1 team in the land, only to finish 8-3, out of playoff contention, and No. 20 in the final poll. In 2011, the Boxers started No. 5 but fell out of favor quickly, finishing a disappointing 5-6. This year, the Boxers begin the season at No. 22. Who knows what will happen next?
Poll breakdown by league affiliation:
Bay State - 4
Catholic Conference - 3
Hockomock - 3
AA - 2
Central Mass. Conference - 2
Old Colony - 2
Big Three - 1
Greater Boston - 1
Middlesex - 1
Mid-Wach A - 1
Mid-Wach B - 1
Patriot - 1
South Shore - 1
Southern Worcester County - 1
Suburban - 1