Another year, another No. 1 preseason ranking for the Highlands Bluebirds, as they stand at the top of our newly released preseason poll.
The Bluebirds return so much talent on both sides of the ball and coming off of a second straight state title they were a no brainer for the top spot.
Five of six Northern Kentucky 6A teams made our top ten, which shows the depth of the conference once again.
Simon Kenton with Miles Simpson and their stout running game ranks the highest among those teams, just edging out the Conner Cougars and their wide-open offense led by Nick West.
Beechwood comes in as the fourth ranked team despite losing standout running back Neico Teipeland two-way lineman Dominic Mainello. They do return their starting quarterback from last year in the form of Matt Rigdon.
Ryle and Boone County are two more 6A teams that were battling it out for a spot. Ryle comes in just above the Rebels at No. 5.
The Raiders return talent at all the skill positions including Division-I recruit Tate Nichols at tight end, Travis Elliot at running back, and Conner Hempel at quarterback.
The Rebels will be relying on their heavy-run offense again and the legs of returning halfback Charles Quainoo, who ran for over 2,000 yards last year.
Newport Central Catholic comes in at No. 7 after losing in the class 2A state championship game last year. The Thoroughbreds will have to fill a lot of spots vacated by graduated seniors, but their program has proven time and time again that they are able to reload. Running back Chris Kelly will be looked to increase his role in the offense with the departure of his older brother and leading rusher Mark.
Dixie comes in at No. 8 after a rebuilding year last season. The Colonels return a lot of players including quarterback Ryan Wilson, who really came on last year to throw for nearly 1,500 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Campbell County is another team from 6A that makes it into our top 10. The Camels lose standout receiver Tony Bishop from last year's team as well as some offensive firepower, but hope that the strong foundation they have built over the past few years will spell continued success as younger players step up. They return both quarterbacks that saw time last year in Andrew Eshman and Michael Kramer, so the Camels hope to retain come continuity on offense.
Covington Catholic sneaks in as the last team into our top ten. The Colonel fans are expecting a big turnaround from new coach Dave Wirth after a very disappointing season last year. The Colonels have an easier schedule this year, but will have to replace their starting quarterback with the graduation of Zach Isler and their top offensive and defensive player in tight end/linebacker Pat VanSant.
Holy Cross just misses the cut as the first team out of our rankings. The Indians expect big things out of their 2010 class, and will look to dual-threat quarterback Markel Walker and running back Andy Roenker to propel them into the top 10.
Looking at the top 10, as always there is a lot of shakeup expected in those rankings as the season progresses, but it will be tough for anyone to oust Highlands from the top. The Bluebirds have a very good chance of going undefeated in Kentucky once again, and making a run at their third straight title.