Monday, August 11, 2008

New book spotlights 12 of America's top programs

Take it from me, it's a tough enough task narrowing down the top 25 (or top 101) teams in the country each year for the National Prep Poll.

I can only imagine how hard the final cuts were for author Gavin Kralik when he began writing his new book "Gridiron Dynasties."

The book, which goes on sale later this month, takes a closer look at a dozen of the top high school football programs from the last decade.

The list includes four teams that have won National Prep Poll titles since 1999: Shreveport (La.) Evangel Christian, Concord (Calif.) De La Salle, Southlake (Texas) Carroll, and Lakeland (Fla.). USA Today's 2007 champion Miami Northwestern is also profiled.

"The process of narrowing down the 12 programs was difficult," said Kralik in an email. "I began with counting the number of times each school has finished the season ranked in the top 25 in the nation, according to USA Today.

"I wanted to also represent a variety of states. I researched the last five or six years in each state to see how many state championships were won by schools from the individual states. For example Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes and Pittsburgh Central Catholic each finished in the top 25 only twice the last 10 years (according to USA Today), which was the fewest of any of the 12 schools in the book. However, Central Catholic has won two of the last four large classification state titles in Pennsylvania, and Lowndes has won three of the last four large classification titles in Georgia."

The final 12 that made the cut for the book were (alphabetically by state): De La Salle, Lakeland, Miami Northwestern, Lowndes, Evangel Christian, Batesville (Miss.) South Panola, Charlotte (N.C.) Independence, Cincinnati Colerain, Jenks (Okla.), Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Carroll and Katy (Texas).

"There were many schools that I would have loved to write about," said Kralik. "But I felt that to do a complete and extensive job the quality of my research and work would be compromised if the number of schools got too big."

Kralik listed 10 more schools that just missed the cut for the book: Long Beach (Calif.) Poly, Tulsa (Okla.) Union, Cincinnati St. Xavier, Warner Robins (Ga.) Northside, Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes, Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha, Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep, Prattville (Ala.), Bellevue (Wash.), and River Ridge (La.) John Curtis.

Other than the obvious -- winning a lot of games -- Kralik said his book presents some common denominators, as well as differences, between the top programs.

"I have a chapter on each of the 12 schools where I show the reader high school football through the lens of each respective school," said Kralik. "I show what the unique formula for building a dynasty is for each of the 12 programs.

"Part two of the book shows common denominators among the 12 and also things aren't (in common) that one would think are. Also, I compare the programs on a variety of levels such as the amount of Division I players in the past seven years, booster clubs, coaches work days, head coaches roles, etc."

The book contains nearly 100 color photos of stadiums, weight rooms, facilities, and game shots.

"I wanted to show people how high school football compares around the nation," Kralik said.

I think one of the other unique things about "Gridiron Dynasties" is the author. Kralik is neither a journalist or writer by trade.

He is a football coach.

In fact, Kralik is entering his fourth year as head coach at Spanaway (Wash.) Bethel, a Class 4A playoff team last season.

"I think the only way I was able to do the job I think I did in the book was because I am a head coach at a large classification school in my own state," he said. "I feel this helped me ask questions that someone who isn't a head coach wouldn't think of asking.

"I also believe it helped me to get more out of the coaches in their limited time in interviews because of the natural connection and understanding coaches have with one another."

"Gridiron Dynasties" goes on sale on August 29. Copies can be ordered online at or


Tim Hudak said...

While coach Kralik has obviously taken on a huge task, someone has to be first with the "but what about this team" comment. It is apparent that the time frame for this book is the present day, and not even the recent past. I say this because of the 2 dozen or so schools that he lists, coach Kralik never once has mentioned three-time national champion Cleveland St. Ignatius, the national "Team of the 90's" and second only to De La Salle for the most finishes in the national Top 25 since 1982.
Having said that, as a great fan of high school football I look forward to getting a copy of coach Kralik's book and reading about the programs that he has selected to feature. I also commend him for taking on this huge task.
I will also save coach Kralik the hassle of saying it, "If you don't like the choices, write your own book." Not a bad idea.

Anonymous said...

Team of the 90s? DLS lost 1 game from 1990 to 1999. During this time period they also broke the national record for consecutive wins. getting #73 in 1997. They were ranked in the top 7 nationally every year from 1992 to 1999.

blue and gold said...

Yes, team of the 90s was most definitely the Cleveland St. Ignatius Wildcats. I'm not sure what Mr. Kralik was thinking putting in Colerain ahead of Ohio powers Ignatius, Massillon, McKinley, and Moeller. Wow! Obviously he never took a look at your book, Tim.

blue and gold said...

Take a look at the Wildcats at their finest:

Tim Hudak said...

Dear Anonymous - St. Ignatius was named the "Team of the 90's" by Student Sports magazine in their February 1997 issue.