East St. Louis and Highland tied for the highest-ranked metro-east football teams Wednesday when the Associated Press released the Illinois Preseason State Rankings.
Coming off a 9-4 season and Class 6A semifinal appearance, the East St. Louis Flyers begin 2014 ranked third in 6A. Highland (11-1), a 5A quarterfinalist, was third in the preseason 5A state poll.
Area teams open the 2014 season on Friday; some teams will play their openers on Saturday.
Althoff was 7-5 last season and reached the Class 4A quarterfinals. The Crusaders, ranked first in the News-Democrat Small-School Preseason Poll, were fourth in the 4A state preseason rankings.
The News-Democrat's top-ranked large school, Edwardsville, begins the season ranked fifth in Class 8A. The Tigers (12-1) reached the 7A semifinals last season before losing to eventual state champ Mt. Carmel.
Edwardsville received three first-place votes, the most by any team except top-ranked Loyola Academy. The 7A powerhouses play each other at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 6 in Wilmette, a suburb of Chicago.
Belleville West was 7-3 last season and will begin the season ranked eighth in the 7A preseason state poll.
O'Fallon, 5-5 last season, came in at No. 11 in the 8A preseason rankings.
The class with the best representation among local teams was 4A, which featured Althoff (fourth), Columbia (10th), Greenville (13th), Civic Memorial (17th) and Mater Dei (19th).
Carlyle cracked the 2A state preseason rankings at No. 21. Indians head coach Randy Dooley will retire at the end of the season following 35 years as a head coach and assistant coach at the school.
The state football rankings are compiled through votes by media members around the state. They are updated on a weekly basis throughout the season until the playoffs begin.