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High School Football Rankings

football player holding a football

High school football is one of the most popular sports at that level as communities throughout the country gather every Friday night to support the nation’s 16,000 teams and a million players. And, in some cases, high school football games can mean so much more than what happens on the field.

Of course, high school football also serves as the breeding ground for college football, which increases interest in its teams and players as well. As a result, high school football rankings, high school football statistics, and fans of the sport regularly consult high school football scores.

Benefits of high school football rankings

The benefits of national high school football rankings are plentiful. At a state level, these allow teams, players and fans see where their teams compare with their competitors as they look to advance to the playoffs and win state championships. They also provide a way for neutral fans and recruiters to get more of a feel for where the better players showcase their skills. National high school football rankings are of even greater importance to teams who are at or near that level, and they’re useful for college recruiters as they look for the elite in the high school ranks.

Of course, do not overlook a football high school because it isn’t ranked or is ranked less highly than another, and no one should overly respect any team due to placing high in the high school football rankings. What counts is what happens on the field. However, high school football rankings do help clarify, in general, who the best teams are, but they shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all.

Football rankings

High school football rankings are generally comprised of the top high school football teams in either the country or an in individual state. National high school football rankings can also consist of the top high school football recruits on a national or state level or by position. High school football national rankings, state rankings and position rankings can consider expert opinions or be done via a mathematical formula. Rankings of the best high school football teams are generally updated once a week during the season while position rankings of the best high school football recruits tend to occur less often.

These school ratings of the best high school football teams and top high school football players are useful to a variety of people. Fans want to know where their favorite teams and players are relative to their rivals and others. Coaches and players like to know these things to get a clearer idea of who they’re competing with. For players, this is both who they’re competing with that coming week and the rest of the season as well as who they’re competing with during the college football recruiting process.

Here are some of the major sources for high school football rankings of teams:

Note that each state divides up its high school football teams into classifications such as 6A, 5A, etc., and several of the high school football rankings are focused on a specific classification. However, some statewide ones consider every classification in making one poll while national high school football rankings consider every school. Rankings of the best players also tend to consider all classifications.

Additionally, local news outlets will sometimes have high school football rankings of the top teams within their metropolitan regions. This is because those are the teams that their readers or viewership audiences are going to be most apt to care about as compared to those elsewhere.

High school football rankings by State

High school football rankings within a state are of particular interest to many since those are who they play on a weekly basis and who ultimately stand between them and a state championship. Some of these statewide football rankings are of particular interest to many as several of the nation’s top teams and players are from there. Here are some of the most prestigious school ratings courtesy of Max Prep football:

College football recruiting rankings

Also, a form of college football recruiting rankings is directly related to high school football recruiting. This type considers how the recruiting year is going for college teams as they relate to three-, four- and five-star recruits. These school ratings can be especially useful for those who are involved with high school football recruiting from the player side. They often use them to see how schools that they’re considering are doing in recruiting. As a result, they can better see how they might fit into a class and at an institution.

MaxPreps’ high school football national rankings metrics

One thing that causes the Max Prep football rankings to stand out is that its national high school football rankings don’t take into account any opinions whatsoever. In other words, assessors, coaches, members of the media and fans have no say in these high school football national rankings. Also, the sizes of the schools and how these teams had performed in previous seasons do not play roles.

What is taken into account in the Max Prep football rankings are the vast numbers of game results in its system. Simply put, these national high school football rankings are based on a team’s record, its strength of schedule and its margins of victories and losses. Wins over the best high schools in America will provide more of a boost than a win over a struggling opponent. Conversely, a loss to one of the top high schools in the US will not hurt nearly as much as a defeat at the hands of a team with a losing record. Also, playoff results are provided with more value.

However, it should be pointed out that these HS football rankings are not infallible. With the sheer number of teams involved in high school football rankings, incorrect or incomplete information is sometimes included. However, MaxPreps does everything within its power to keep these results as complete and accurate as possible and, in turn, do the same for its high school football national rankings.

MaxPreps also does not consider any opinions for its rankings of individual players. It combines the core high school football stats that players have put up with that player’s team’s strength of schedule to account for the quality of opposition that was faced all year. The only additional factor is that a player needs to have at least a 10th of whoever stat total is leading the high school football national rankings in that category in order to be included on these lists.

National high school football rankings: Other ratings metrics

However, the national high school rankings for players that are analyzed by other media outlets such as 247Sports, ESPN, Rivals and Scout do take into account opinions in addition to players’ high school football stats.

Game film is one of the most important factors that go into high school football recruiting rankings. Of course, seeing a player perform in person is preferred, but that’s just not possible in the vast majority of cases. This is especially true with so many games being played on the same night every week. However, game film can be viewed at any time. Regardless, seeing how a player is performing when everything is on the line is most important. In other words, game action is always going to be more valued by assessors than how players do in camps and combines.

With that said, how a player does at a camp or combine is still important. Assessors also know that the quality of opposition is, in most cases, higher in those types of situations than they are in the average high school game.

Of those four ranking services, 247Sports is the only one that places any value on scholarship offers, giving that aspect 10% of its final rankings. The reason why this is judged to not be as important a factor as the others is because schools will offer scholarships to different types of players depending on their needs and for other reasons. For example, Alabama may offer a scholarship to a lower-rated recruit simply because this person fills a specific need so well. Another reason for this lack of emphasis on scholarship offers is because there’s been so many times when reported offers turned out to not be true.

National high school rankings: Star ratings

Most people, even those who aren’t all that invested in high school football recruiting rankings, have heard of star ratings and know that a five-star recruit is the best of the best. But what do those terms mean exactly? First, it’s important to note that recruits will receive either five, four, three, two or zero stars. It’s unknown why one-star recruits are not included in football recruiting ratings.

Generally, five-star prospects will only number 30 or so in any given year. These are the players who are expected to contribute to their college teams as freshman and have tremendous pro potential. Four-star athletes will generally be amongst the top 300 players in a class and also have a lot of potential, both as a solid contributor in college and as an NFL player. Three-star players will tend to be in the top 900 players in a class and have the same types of potential but with less impact. Two-star players are predicted to be able to contribute for a couple years at a solid college program.

Most have also heard of the term, “blue chip.” This refers to those who amongst the better college players. They don’t have to be five-star recruits, but, in most cases, they will not be starving for scholarship offers. The lesser-known term of “yellow chip” essentially refers to everybody else, all the way from contributors for FBS and FCS squads down to those playing roles on teams in D2 and D3 football.

Player rankings

Player rankings are also of significant interest to followers of high school football but perhaps even more so to college football fans, coaches and other interested people. That’s because these football rankings help show who the top college teams, the ones looking to be national champions, as well as the rest of the schools are recruiting to play there. One quality resource for this is You can see all of the top high school football players in one list as well as see other lists that have been broken down by position and by state. It can be interesting to look at the state rankings and see how many of its top players are looking to play college ball in-state and who are looking to head elsewhere.

In comparison, Sports Illustrated’s college football rankings top 100 is the college version of these football rankings. Of course, the goal of every player ranked in the top 100 in high school is to achieve a spot on the college football rankings top 100, but surprises always happen as players sometimes develop more or less in college than had been anticipated.

Types of commitments

Those who have risen to or near the top of the USA Today high school football rankings or ESPN high school football ratings will receive a number of scholarship offers. This will almost always lead to a commitment. The one that is binding is a written commitment that accompanies the completion of a National Letter of Intent. Once this is done, in most cases, the player cannot go somewhere else, and no other schools can recruit this person.

Some other types of commitments are verbal and silent. Neither of those are binding and are normally done before a National Letter of Intent can be signed. They are similar with each other with the exception being that silent commitments are kept out of the media and are not publicly known. 

What is a sleeper recruit?

A sleeper recruit, which is also known as a project, is someone who has the potential to surprise by overperforming as compared to their recruiting ratings. This may be due to not as much information being available about this player or the player needing to play in a position in high school that is not as suited to the player’s long-term potential. Or perhaps this is a quality running back in a passing-oriented offense. Maybe this player has been injured a lot in high school. Simply put, these are players who have potential but enough unknowns and question marks to make many wary.

High school football scores

The resources that you should use to follow high school football scores will vary depending on several factors. One of the best ones for finding high school football scores is MaxPreps. Also consider the websites for local newspapers and other news outlets in the area of the school that you’re interested in as they often regularly update those teams’ high school football scores. Social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook can also be a good resource for high school football scores.

Live video and audio coverage

In addition to following high school football scores, perhaps you want to watch high school football teams play live or listen to audio coverage of their games. This will take some more research, but some resources provide live video coverage and, more often, audio coverage of their games. Browse local media coverage of the sport as well as the school’s social media outlets to see if they provide any information on games that may be covered live. For example, some will have their entire high school football season schedule broadcast on a local radio station, which will, in most cases, be accessible worldwide.

Also, the top teams sometimes broadcast on national television. For example, the ESPN family of networks broadcasted seven games from Aug. 23-25, 2019 with some of those on ESPN and ESPN2. Games that decide state championships can be seen on television within that state and, in some cases, are available online elsewhere as well.

High school football statistics

MaxPreps might be the best resource for high school football statistics. Although these stats may not be complete as the reporting of high school football statistics is not always done, it is pretty comprehensive, especially for the top teams. Of course, team rankings and individual player stats do not consider the strengths of schedules of those teams, and those do skew the high school football stats significantly one way or the other. But they do give you a good idea of the skill levels of the top high school football players. Local media outlets can be a good resource for high school football stats too.

Do note that some positions have more stats on them than others. For example, quarterbacks can be judged by completion ratio and passing yards while running backs are often ranked by how many rushing yards that they accumulate per game.

Conversely, offensive linemen, despite being incredibly important to the success of a team, don’t have measurable stats of their performances even though they play significant roles in a running back’s rushing yards by providing holes to run through and the number of times that their quarterback gets sacked. One stat that has been come up with is a pancake block, which is measured by knocking defensive linemen and linebackers back. However, this is not an official statistic so cannot be used to compare linemen.

Of course, those looking to recruit offensive lineman from a football high school as well as other players know what to look for. For example, an FBS program looking for an offensive lineman will want somebody who meets these general guidelines: 6’4″, 297 pounds, multiple-year all-state honors, physically dominant and consistently moves the line of scrimmage 5 yards.


The country’s top high school football players get recruited to play in college. Many get actively recruited by a number of the top programs while others have the more normal experience of needing to be much more proactive in the recruiting process to find a good fit. Regardless of the level of interest shown by schools, high school players must impress on the field, including during practice, and it’s also essential to bring something to the table academically and have a professional demeanor.

Players need to understand terms that are regularly used to describe them during the recruiting process. Some of these are prospect, recruit and commit. A prospect is a player who is eligible to play college ball. How likely that is to happen is irrelevant. Conversely, a recruit is someone who is being recruited by one or more schools. The coaching staff at that institution has shown signs of being proactive as well. A commit is a player who has come to an agreement with a school and has decided to play there.

Note that there are a few types of commitment. The player can sign a National Letter of Intent, which is a binding agreement for a scholarship, verbally commit by making the decision public or be a silent commit, meaning that just those close to the coaching staff and the player know of the decision.

The recruiting experience also differs from college to college. Variability is partly due to the multitude of institutions that sponsor this sport. For example, the recruiting process for Army is going to be different than at Marshall due to the differing requirements of those places. Also, it’s going to be different at a place like Stanford than it might be for another institution due to the very high academic standards and expectations at that school. Additionally, football programs that are higher in profile will have more financial means to use for recruiting, and the recruiting process tends to be more intense on both sides.

NCSA resources

It’s important to go into and experience the recruiting process with as much knowledge as possible. NCSA offers several resources to help do that, one of those being its NCSA Power Rankings. In addition to a school’s athletic performances, this considers things like graduation rates and costs of attendance. It’s also useful to understand the recruiting calendar. The most important thing to take from that is that there are strict rules on when college coaches can contact you or observe your play, but you may contact them at any time. You’ll also want to consider making and disseminating highlight videos and taking part in camps, combines and showcases.

NCSA has been helping football players and athletes in a wide variety of other sports find the best college fits possible since it was founded in 2000.