St. John's Prep No. 1 in Preseason Top 25 Poll

With the first day of MIAA preseason football finally upon us, today we unveil our annual statewide ESPN Boston Preseason MIAA Top 25 poll. To view it, CLICK HERE.

Some notes and observations about the first football poll of 2013:

St. John's Prep takes top spot: Last year's Division 1 Eastern Mass. Super Bowl champ, St. John's Prep, comes into the season as a unanimous No. 1 in Massachusetts. The Eagles return the state's best overall player, Maryland-bound running back Johnathan Thomas, the only junior named a finalist last year for ESPN Boston's prestigious "Mr. Football" award. They also return one of the state's best offensive lines, led by seniors Kent Blaeser, Dom Hooven and Sean Hoey.

Everett comes in at No. 2, coming off their third straight MIAA Super Bowl championship. It's the first time since 2010, our first year of operation, that the Crimson Tide have not been ranked No. 1 in the preseason. Of course, we all know how that 2010 season ended -- the Tide, ranked No. 3 in the preseason, blew out Prep in the Division 1 Super Bowl to finish No. 1 for the first of three straight seasons. Could a similar narrative play out this fall?

Rounding out the top five are Reading, Mansfield and Natick.

Venturing West: Six squads from the Central and Western Mass. regions start the year in our poll, starting with Springfield Central (6) and Leominster (7) at the top followed by St. John's of Shrewsbury (11), Auburn (17), Longmeadow (18) and Doherty (22). It's a slight departure from last season, when a record seven teams combined from the two regions started the year in our poll, but there is perhaps more elite Division 1-caliber talent in this year's grouping, with players such as Central's Cody Williams (Monmouth), Leominster's Jarell Addo (UMass), St. John's Andrew Smiley (Navy lacrosse) and Doherty's Isaac Yiadom (Boston College).

Bay State, Catholic Conference represented well: Both the Bay State and Catholic Conferences have three teams in the preseason poll, more than any other league. For the Bay State, Natick (5) is followed by Walpole (14) and Needham (21). For the Catholic Conference, Xaverian (15) and BC High (19) join top-ranked St. John's Prep in the poll. A fourth Bay State member, Weymouth, landed in the "Last 10 out" section.

Logjam in D2 South: Perhaps no division in the newly-aligned MIAA State Championship format will be as deep as Division 2 South, arguably the most loaded division in Massachusetts. A record six schools from the bracket are represented in the poll -- Mansfield (4), Natick (5), Barnstable (12), Duxbury (13), Needham (21) and King Philip (23). Other Division 2 schools represented include Reading (3), Springfield Central (6), Leominster (7), St. John's of Shrewsbury (11) and Longmeadow (18).

Here's how the poll breaks down, by both division and league affiliations:

Division 1 - 8

Division 2 - 11

Division 3 - 3

Division 4 - 1

Division 5 - 1

Division 6 - 1

Bay State - 3

Catholic Conference - 3

AA - 2

Hockomock - 2

Merrimack Valley - 2

Old Colony - 2

Atlantic Coast - 1

Big Three - 1

Central Mass. Conference - 1

Eastern Athletic - 1

Greater Boston - 1

Mid-Wach A - 1

Middlesex - 1

Patriot - 1

Southern Worcester County - 1

Tri-Valley - 1