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High school football: 100 days to kickoff, preseason OFFICIAL Top 25 set to be released June 23 - OFFICIAL
High school football: 100 days to kickoff, preseason MaxPreps Top 25 set to be released June 23
While adjusted spring seasons due to the pandemic are just wrapping up in some pockets of the country, high school football is expected to return to its normal time slot this fall. Here's to hopes that all the things that make prep football a community event on Friday nights can return along with it – bands, cheerleaders, student sections and of course fans.

Kickoff is 100 days away in many states and we will officially begin counting down to what may be the most highly-anticipated high school football season in history with the release of our preseason MaxPreps Top 25 on June 23.

A look at the nation's elite programs will be followed by breakdowns of the top team in every state, biggest games, toughest schedules and top players at every position. Our 2021 preview will conclude in late July with the release of our preseason All-America teams.

Most states have confirmed start dates for the 2021 season. The earliest scheduled thus far is Hawaii on Aug. 6, followed by Alaska and Utah the following week. The season will really pick up steam Aug. 20-21 with more than a dozen states kicking off that weekend.

Last year, Utah kicked off first Aug. 13 and was one of 35 states to complete seasons in the fall. Of those, 31 eventually crowned state champions.
High school football teams around the country can't wait to take the field again this fall.
Photo by Daniel Galarza
High school football teams around the country can't wait to take the field again this fall.
Previewing the 2021 football season

June 23: Preseason MaxPreps Top 25
June 29: Highlighting the nation's top 100 teams
July 1: Best team in all 50 states
July 5: Top 10 biggest games
July 7: Top 10 toughest schedules
July 9: Top 10 quarterbacks
July 12: Top 10 running backs
July 14: Top 10 wide receivers
July 16: Top 10 defensive linemen
July 19: Top 10 linebackers
July 21: Top 10 defensive backs
July 23: Top 10 players
July 26: Preseason Sophomore All-America Team
July 28: Preseason Junior All-America Team
July 30: Preseason All-America Team
California high school football: Behind freshman quarterback Elijah Brown, Mater Dei blows out JSerra Catholic 52-3 in season opener - OFFICIAL
California high school football: Behind freshman quarterback Elijah Brown, Mater Dei blows out JSerra Catholic 52-3 in season opener
Southern California high school football power Mater Dei (Santa Ana) hadn't taken the field in 475 days prior to Friday night's game against JSerra Catholic (San Juan Capistrano). The Monarchs showed no rust, building a 38-0 halftime lead and winning their season opener 52-3.

The Mater Dei defense only allowed two first downs during the first 24 minutes and forced three turnovers. Senior USC signee Raesjon Davis turned one of those into a pick-six from 18 yards out. 

The Monarchs improved to 41-3 since the start of the 2017 season and notched their fifth consecutive win over JSerra Catholic.

In addition to one of the nation's top high school football programs returning to the field, the other big story was Elijah Brown becoming the fourth freshman quarterback to start for Bruce Rollinson at Mater Dei and first since JT Daniels did in 2015.

Matt Barkley and Todd Marinovich were the other two.
Freshman Elijah Brown threw for three touchdowns in his debut at Mater Dei.
Photo by Heston Quan
Freshman Elijah Brown threw for three touchdowns in his debut at Mater Dei.
The 6-foot-2, 182-pound signal caller threw for two scores in the first half and looked calm and collected in his Monarch debut. The first was a 17-yard pass to senior Josiah Zamora to take a 7-0 lead. On the following drive he threw a perfect ball to three-star junior Cooper Barkarte for a 35-yard touchdown.

Five-star junior Oklahoma commit Raleek Brown looked explosive in his first game as a Monarch. The former Edison (Stockton) standout racked up over 100 total yards and added a six-yard touchdown to put Mater Dei up 28-0 with 11:18 left in the second quarter.

Freshman running back Ajon Bryant tacked on a five-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 35-0. Chase Meyer connected on a 27-yard field goal with six seconds left in the first half to go up 38-0.

Brown threw his third touchdown of the night on the opening possession of the second half to junior running back Quincy Craig to take a commanding 45-3 lead. That drive would be the last for Mater Dei's starters.

Bryant added his second rushing touchdown late in the third quarter to extend the lead to 52-3.

Three-star junior defensive back Joshua Hunter intercepted a pass in the second half to give the Monarchs defense their fourth turnover of the night.

Up next for Mater Dei is Orange Lutheran (0-1) on March 26. JSerra Catholic will look to bounce back next week against Santa Margarita (1-0).
Oklahoma commit Raleek Brown also made an impressive debut for Mater Dei on Friday night.
Photo by Heston Quan
Oklahoma commit Raleek Brown also made an impressive debut for Mater Dei on Friday night.

Aizhanique Mayo named 2020-21 OFFICIAL Connecticut High School Girls Basketball Player of the Year - OFFICIAL
Aizhanique Mayo named 2020-21 MaxPreps Connecticut High School Girls Basketball Player of the Year
Each year since 2006, MaxPreps has recognized outstanding performers in high school basketball. America's source for high school sports continues the tradition to close out the 2020-21 season by naming the top player in each state. Selections are based on team success and individual excellence, in addition to local and state accolades.

Aizhanique Mayo of Notre Dame Catholic (Fairfield) is the 2020-21 MaxPreps Connecticut High School Girls Basketball Player of the Year. In a shortened season, the 5-foot-9 junior point guard led the Lancers to a 12-1 record and the school's second straight South-West Conference Tournament championship.

Mayo averaged 20.4 points, 7.0 assists, 6.8 rebounds and 5.0 steals per game while producing a 7:2 assist to turnover ratio. Head coach Maria Conlon's star shot 44 percent from the field, 47 percent from beyond the arc and 82 percent from the free throw line.

Notre Dame Catholic is 58-3 through the first three seasons of Mayo's career and outscored opponents by nearly 30 points per game on average in 2020-21. She was the South-West Conference championship game MVP and a first team All-Conference selection.

Mayo has already received around 30 offers from college programs.

Each state's MaxPreps Player of the Year will be considered for inclusion in the MaxPreps All-America Team, which is scheduled to be released April 20.
Lashae Dwyer named 2020-21 OFFICIAL Tennessee High School Girls Basketball Player of the Year - OFFICIAL
Lashae Dwyer named 2020-21 MaxPreps Tennessee High School Girls Basketball Player of the Year
Each year since 2006, MaxPreps has recognized outstanding performers in high school basketball. America's source for high school sports continues the tradition to close out the 2020-21 season by naming the top player in each state. Selections are based on team success and individual excellence, in addition to local and state accolades.

Lashae Dwyer of the The Webb School (Bell Buckle) is the 2020-21 MaxPreps Tennessee High School Girls Basketball Player of the Year. The 5-foot-7 senior wing sparked a spectacular turnaround after transferring into the program, going from 4-17 in 2019-20 to 28-2 and winning the Divisiion II-A state title this season.

Dwyer averaged 22.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 3.6 steals per game. She had 23 points, 12 rebounds and six assists as The Webb School won its first-ever Tennessee title with a 54-38 win over Providence Christian.

Headed to Miami (Fla.) next year, Dwyer is regarded as the No. 79 prospect in the Class of 2021 by ESPN Hoopgurlz.

Each state's MaxPreps Player of the Year will be considered for inclusion in the MaxPreps All-America Team.
What will high school football look like in the fall? - OFFICIAL
What will high school football look like in the fall?
North Carolina and Rhode Island conclude the highly unusual 2020-21 high school football season with championships this weekend. Once those states are a wrap, attention will shift to the fall with plenty of questions and speculation about what exactly that will look like across the country.

Without another major surge in COVID-19 numbers, prep football in the fall should look all but identical to pre-2020 according to most state associations and federations. How many fans will be in attendance is still very much up in the air.

"Assuming everything continues as is, we plan a full and regular school year of education-based athletics in 2021-22, including football," California Interscholastic Federation Executive Director Ron Nocetti said. "We'll know more about fan allowance as we get closer to our start dates."

A good number of states already — 35 of the 50 — powered through with football last fall (Vermont played touch and not tackle) and all but four of those states held state championships. Alaska, Minnesota, West Virginia and Wisconsin stopped short of championship games due to the pandemic.

To get to the fall finish line took much resolve. That may have been exemplified best by Michigan, which first moved football to the spring, then back to the fall only to delay the season 42 days starting in November due to surging COVID-19 numbers. The state eventually crowned 10 champions by Jan. 23.

The states that completed fall seasons are ready and eager to go, just tweaking pandemic protocols which will likely be loosened significantly from 2020.

"Hopefully we're getting closer and closer to normal as possible," De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) coach Justin Alumbaugh said. "We'd be naive to think it's going back completely to old times. We still need to address locker room issues. And testing needs to be more streamlined and easier. There surely is a lot more administrative work on coaches than there used to be."

California is one of the 11 states that played its 2020 season in the spring of 2021. Of those states, only three played for state titles. All spring teams have trickier off-seasons than normal with summer conditioning only a few weeks away.

Of the four states that didn't play a down of tackle football in 2020-21, Hawaii is the only one to hold spring scrimmages, including one last week between perennial state powers St. Louis (Honolulu) and Punahou (Honolulu). It took three days for St. Louis to complete 150 COVID-19 tests, all which came back negative, according to its coach. 

"We got to see all the young guys play and seniors got to play and wrap up their year," St. Louis coach Ron Lee told Paul Honda of Hawaii Prep World. "Kids are so happy we had this. I feel sorry for other schools that didn't have what we did, being out there with their friends. They were having fun. They've learned how to handle disappointment."

St. Louis will meet Kamehameha Kapalama (Honolulu) this week in another scrimmage, which indicates a green light for an Aug. 6 start date for the fall season. That would put Hawaii in the leadoff spot, like normal, for the 2021 fall season.

Utah took those reins last season, kicking off the 2020 season on Aug. 13. The season went largely unscathed, finishing off with five state championship games in late November. With its entire schedule planned for 2021, including another Aug. 13 opening, Utah once again has its foot firmly on the floor board.
Crimson Cliffs helped Utah kick off the 2020 season with an opening game against Manti.
File photo by Adam Cartwright
Crimson Cliffs helped Utah kick off the 2020 season with an opening game against Manti.
Like many states, Utah is seeing significant realignment, including the re-addition of 1A football, giving it six classifications. It's also seeing a larger-than-normal turnover at the top with 16 new head coaches in the state, according to the Utah Desert News.

That national trend is likely residue of burnout from navigating through the pandemic, coaches say.

"It seems like (2020) never really started or really ended," said Alumbaugh, whose six-game season ended April 17.

Said Nocetti: "So much more is being put on the plate of these coaches. I would hope that communities would be even more supportive and appreciative of high school coaches during this time. They need it. That's the only way they will continue to stay longer."

The passion for football is never going away in Texas.

Spring football is back in the Lone Star State after being canceled in 2020. The University Interscholastic League allows 18 spring training practices over 34 days, giving teams the opportunity for scrimmages or even a spring game. Programs still must follow the UIL's own risk mitigation guidelines, but things may be loosening in areas concerning specific mask mandates and dressing room policies.

Some of the larger schools, which had regular seasons moved back a month, moved back their spring workouts. Others, like defending Class 5A-I champion Ryan (Denton), opted out of spring ball completely. All of that points to the fall season starting right on time and looking back to normal.

On Wednesday, the UIL also sent a release that summer marching band and strength and conditioning activities may begin immediately following the end of the 2020-21 school year.
Westlake quarterback Cade Klubnik will help his team defend a Texas 6A-I championship in 2021.
File photo by Sean Roach
Westlake quarterback Cade Klubnik will help his team defend a Texas 6A-I championship in 2021.
Other state updates:

* Georgia started with a few hiccups to start 2020, but primarily proceeded as normal. The 2021 season is aligned as previous years: Teams are allowed one spring and one fall scrimmage (or two in the fall), acclimation period begins July 26 and first day of practice in pads is Aug. 2, first games are Aug. 20 and playoffs begin Nov. 12.

* In Florida, beyond massive new districts, regions and reclassifications for 2021, the state's football season should look much like 2019 and prior. The playoff system returns to district play for teams in Class 5A through 8A.

* In Tennessee, the TSSAA board voted to allow summer team camps and the return of 7-on-7 football, as long as COVID-19 protocols are in place. Those activities had been suspended since the pandemic began. The state's high school sports governing body also changed its state championship venue for two seasons to Chattanooga's Finley Stadium, which seats 22,000, Concerns over locker room space and use — with so many games — were addressed and dismissed.

* In Ohio, a positive was gleaned from adjustments to the pandemic — increasing its playoff format. Last fall, the OHSAA allowed every team to enter the playoffs due to the shortened season. It was met with overwhelmingly positive feedback, according to OHSAA executive director Doug Ute. Thus it expanded its playoff qualifiers in 2021, from pre-2020 season, to 16 schools per region.