The trick behind national rankings isn't trying to "be right" but rather put the right teams in order so that ultimately they will decide the No. 1 ranking on the field.
If you were to project the teams most likely to go undefeated, those often hail from small states with limited competition and no true regional or national tests in which to gauge those programs. If you are looking for the most talent-laden programs who are proving themselves, then you will enjoy this year's Fall FAB 50s -- both boys and girls.
St. Ignatius (Ohio) starts No. 1 in the preseason FAB 50 for boys with St. Benedict's Prep (N.J.) at No. 2. Given the teams go head-to-head Sept. 20, their starting order matters very little in August. Last year, St. Benedict's won the first-ever meeting between the programs en route to its second straight FAB 50 No. 1 finish and sixth in the last eight years. St. Ignatius, which has FAB 50 titles in 2010 and 2016, gets the nod this year simply based on the fact it has more key returning players, including Indiana commit Kyle Folds, Notre Dame commit Matthew McLaughlin and Ohio State commit Peter Van Euwen.
St. Benedict's and St. Ignatius have combined to win eight of the last FAB 50 Fall No. 1 rankings.
If both falter, there is a steady string of quality teams perched to inherit the top spot. Naperville North (Ill.) has some very key players back from last year's perfect run. Delbarton School (N.J.) is loaded with elite club players. Peoria Notre Dame (Ill.) has a talented attack and the Irish will clash with St. Ignatius in October. Naperville North will take part in the Go 4 The Goal Fall Classic, which features No. 10 Milwaukee Marquette (Wis.), No. 14 Morton (Ill.), up-and-coming contender [Gateway Legacy Christian il-m] (Ill.) and Kansas frontrunner Bishop Miege (Kan.).
Throughout the Top 10 there are tons of intriguing matches, which even includes No. 9 McDonogh School (Md.) taking on North Carolina frontrunner and No. 18-ranked Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.). All of the Top 10 teams project at least two NCAA Division I signees, and all either play or have the potential (through tournaments) to play other FAB 50-ranked opponents.
On the girls side, McDonogh School (Md.) offers the perfect combination of talent and schedule to justify a preseason No. 1 ranking. If the Eagles can go undefeated through a schedule that includes No. 5 St. Anthony's (N.Y.), No. 6 Strongsville (Ohio), No. 9 Episcopal Academy (Pa.), No. 25 Good Counsel (Md.), No. 28 Cumberland Valley (Pa.), No. 36 Pennington School (N.J.) and No. 40 Archbishop Spalding (Md.), it will be impossible not to keep McDonogh at No. 1.
But if the Eagles falter, Portland Jesuit (Ore.) would be in position for a FAB 50 repeat. Jesuit is riding a 38-match win streak and has outscored its opponents 214-3 during that stretch. Another perfect season would put this program's win streak near 60 matches, certainly case for another FAB 50 title claim. Jesuit's most important out-of-state match will be against Seattle Prep (Wash.).
No. 3 Eastern (N.J.) and No. 4 Beavercreek (Ohio) are coming off state title seasons in 2018 and with most of their key players back are early favorites and even FAB 50 No. 1 contenders. St. Anthony's (N.Y.), which has lost only two matches in the last five years, rounds out the Top 5, but No. 6 Strongsville (Ohio), No. 7 Ramapo (N.J.) and No. 8 Noblesville (Ind.) easily could be in the running for No. 1 this season. McDonogh, St. Anthony's and Strongsville all will go head-to-head in October in New York.
Over the next few weeks, TopDrawerSoccer will continue to look ahead at the 2019-20 high school season with a list of projected returning players who received honors in 2018, the most important tournaments around the country, the must-see nonleague/out-of-state games of the season, and much more.
But for the time being, enjoy an early look at the projected top fall high school teams in the nation.
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