The 2023 high school football season has arrived, with teams kicking off across the country in August.
That means the first USA TODAY Sports Super 25 is nearing, which marks another start to an iconic franchise that began back in 1982.
Last year’s Super 25 was one of the tightest races of all time, as St. John Bosco (Calif.) narrowly won out over Mater Dei (Calif.) and Bishop Gorman (Nev.), as well as Texas power Duncanville and Miami Central (Fla.).
How will things stack up this season? Ahead of the opening Super 25, USA TODAY HSS is looking around the country at the five regions we use to create the national rankings:
Central (Miami, Fla.)
Central started last season with a win over fellow Florida powerhouse IMG Academy and never looked back. In the end, the undefeated Rockets secured their fourth consecutive state championship with a 38-31 win over American Heritage. Their dominance within the state is now a long-running tradition. 2022 was the school’s ninth state title in the last 12 years.
St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.)
Also undefeated in 2022 (14-0), the Raiders will be missing a few key pieces from last season, namely quarterback Hezekiah Harris and pass rusher Keyshawn Johnson. However, they’ll still have four-star wide receiver Chance Robinson. Last season he averaged 45 yards per game and scored 13 touchdowns. Entering his senior year, Robinson is committed to Miami.
IMG Academy (Fla.)
Last year the Ascenders went 8-1, with their only loss coming against Central Miami in their first game of the season. Their final game was a 27-16 victory over Baltimore heavyweight St. Frances Academy (Md.). This year IMG has another loaded roster, especially on the defensive side of the ball. They are headlined by five-star DT David Stone and blue chip cornerbacks Jordon Johnson-Rubell and Ellis Robinson IV, the highest-ranked corner in the class of 2024.
The Lions also only managed to lose one game last season, finishing 13-1 with the lone L coming against perennial contender Bishop Gorman (Nev.). While they are talented all around, this year Chaminade-Madonna is particularly blessed at the wide receiver position. Jeremiah Smith and Joshisa Trader are both five-star wideouts who are both ranked among the top five ranked recruits at their position in the country.
Lipscomb Academy (Tenn.)
The Mustangs pulled off a perfect 13-0 season in 2022, ending with a 42-0 shutout victory over Christ Presbyterian Academy (Tenn.). Now coached by Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Tennessee Titans center Kevin Mawae, this year Lipscomb has a lot of talent. That includes the top-ranked overall recruit in the state of Tennessee, cornerback Kaleb Beasley.
Last season Lake went 14-0, which included shutout wins over Bartow, George Jenkins, Kathleen and Lakewood. The Dreadnaughts did lose a lot of starpower in the offseason though, including cornerback Cormani McClain moving on to the University of Colorado after a chaotic recruitment. Top pass rushers Larry King III and Idris King have also graduated. Their biggest loss was on the sidelines, though. Eight-time state champion Bill Castle has retired after serving as Lakeland’s head coach for the last 52 years.
Langston Hughes (Ga.)
The Panthers pulled off a perfect 15-0 season in 2022, culminating in the school’s first state championship with a 35-28 win over Gainesville. Langston will begin their title defense without starting quarterback Air Noland – who’s on his way to Ohio State. Their first game of the season will come against Carrollton (Ga.) on August 18.
Mill Creek (Ga.)
The Hawks posted an almost-perfect 14-1 record last year, with their only loss of the season coming against the formidable Buford (Ga.) in Week 9. Mill Creek will be returning several promising prospects, including linebacker Josh Anglin, who totaled 13 tackles for a loss last season. Mill Creek visits North Gwinnett on Saturday, August 19 for their season opener.
American Heritage (Fla.)
Last season the Patriots went 13-2, with their two losses coming against Florida superpowers Chaminade-Madonna and Miami Central, and only by a touchdown. Top receiver Brandon Inniss has moved on to Ohio State. However, they may have another stud wideout in Malachi Toney, who posted 35 catches, 621 yards and eight touchdowns as a freshman.
Already one of the top high school football teams in the region, Buford may be the biggest draw in the country this year. The nation’s No. 1 ranked quarterback and top overall prospect in the class of 2024 is Dylan Raiola, who has transferred from Arizona to Buford for his Senior season as he prepares to play for Georgia at the next level. Buford went 11-1 in 2022 and opens the new season at home against St. Frances Academy (Md.) on the 18th.
Others: Edgewater (Fla.), Carrollton (Ga.)
Thompson (Alabaster, Ala.)
Thompson took care of business in the AHSAA Class 7A State Championship last season for the Warriors’ fourth straight title. And when you look at the recaps from the 49-24 win over Auburn, one thing stands out: the underclassmen who starred in the game, including quarterback Trent Seaborn, who was only in eighth grade — yep: EIGHTH. The QB already has an offer from Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide, so rest assured, the Warriors could find easily themselves back in the Super 25 again after missing out in 2023.