News4Jax Super 10 football: Trinity opens first poll at the top

JACKSONVILLE, FLA – This is the first installment of the News4Jax Super 10 high school football poll. During the season, it will be revealed on air and online each Tuesday. 

Rank, School, Classification

1. Trinity Christian, Class 3A: The Conquerors went 13-1 last season and lost in the Class 5A state semifinals. They graduated a powerhouse back in Marcus Crowley (Ohio State), but have Kyjuan Herndon (Ole Miss commit) back after he spent last year at Sandalwood. Trinity will be stronger at quarterback with Jacory Jordan a year older, and the Conquerors will be wicked tough on defense.

2. Mandarin, Class 8A: The Mustangs, 11-4 last season, are the defending 8A state champs and return arguably the best player in the area in QB Carson Beck. The graduation losses around Mandarin could take some time to figure out, though.

3. Raines, Class 5A: For the second consecutive season, the Vikings lost their opener and won their final 13 games, capped off by the 4A state title. The stakes are raised with a jump to Class 5A, although coach Deran Wiley and his staff are well-prepared. 

4. Columbia, Class 6A: A 10-2 season ended in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs last year. Quarterback Jordan Smith (USF commit) is the big name returning on offense, but the Tigers are heavy on experience throughout their lineup.

5. Oakleaf, Class 8A: At 5-6 a year ago, this may seem a bit high for the Knights. But we’re projecting here and Oakleaf has cornerstone players on both lines of scrimmage, a quarterback entering his third season as starter and playmakers dotting the roster. Big loss in the backfield (Keshawn King signed with Virginia Tech) but this is the most talented team in Oakleaf history. 

6. Lee, Class 6A: The Generals went 10-2 and reached the third round of the state playoffs in 7A last year. The strength here is on the defensive side of the ball, especially in the secondary. And this team has been steady under coach O.J. Small. 

7. Sandalwood, Class 8A: The talent is always there for the Saints and this year is certainly no exception. Elite 11 quarterback Jeff Sims (Florida State) is the headliner, but there is a talented defense on the other side, too. The reason for concern is that Sandalwood hasn't won a district title in ages (2002) and play in the most challenging district in the area. 

8. Bartram Trail, Class 8A: The Bears finished 7-3 and missed the state playoffs last season for just the third time in program history. This showcases the depth of District 1-8A, where four of the five teams are ranked.

9. Fletcher, Class 7A: The Senators reached the state playoffs a season ago after numerous near-misses. The challenge now is not just getting there, but doing something in the postseason. How does this defense rebuild after graduating a ridciulous amount of talent? 

10. Bolles, Class 4A: A new coaching staff is the biggest change here, but the expectations never fade. The Bulldogs have some solid returnees, led by TE/LB Simon Brackin and QB Ben Netting. Transfer receiver Davis Ellis had 1,084 yards and 17 TDs last year at Episcopal to lead the area.

On the bubble: Baker County, First Coast, Flagler Palm Coast, St. Augustine, University Christian, West Nassau.

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