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August 7, 2010

No. 7 West Monroe loaded on defense

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Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

RivalsHigh.com has begun its 2010 countdown, ranking the teams from No. 1 through No. 100.

We started at No. 100 on July 26 and will release two groups of five teams per day. Then, we'll do a daily countdown from No. 10 to No. 1. Our top team will be unveiled on Monday - two weeks from the start of the season.

After that, we will wait until Sept. 1 for the next rankings, then have them every Monday during the season.

The team rankings were compiled by high school sports senior analyst Dallas Jackson, the Rivals AMP team, football recruiting analysts and the entire RivalsHigh network of publishers.

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Top 100 countdown
No. 7 West Monroe, Louisiana
COACH: Don Shows
LAST SEASON: 15-0, Louisiana Class 5A State Champs
FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 3 in RivalsHigh 100

The thought of retiring does not appeal to West Monroe (La.) High coach Don Shows.

Even though he potentially has the rare opportunity to go out on top, Shows, 73, has always dismissed the retirement speculation.

"I worked the LSU camp this summer, I go to the 7-on-7s and all that stuff," Shows said. "I like to coach. I may work until I drop."

West Monroe finished the 2009 season at No. 3 in the RivalsHigh 100 and won the Class 5A title in one of the more well-respected football states.

This season, the Rebels bring back three starters on offense and eight on defense. And they once again find themselves in the national discussion, beginning the year ranked No. 7.

The combination could provide enough firepower to repeat as champs and possibly give Shows his third career national title.

"I think this could potentially be the best defensive team we have ever had," Shows said. "We have the speed, athleticism, and know-how to do it."

West Monroe takes a simple, but effective, philosophy to football - wear down teams on offense, keep the clock moving on the ground and play fast, physical defense.

"Every year we want to dictate the play on defense," Shows said.

In Louisiana, that is a mentality few take - most choose to go heavy on offense - but the tactic has proven to work for Shows.

"We aren't going to ignore offense, mind you," he said. "I mean, we have some players there too, but we are young is all."

That youth is especially evident across the offensive line, as the Rebels do not return one player in the trenches. It is not all that unusual for West Monroe to plug in a new class of offensive linemen each year, but it is still a challenge that must be met for this team to move up nationally.

"Look, you can bring back every starter you have, but they still have to go and play," Shows was quick to point out. "Until the pads and helmets start to meet, it is all done on paper."

Be that as it may, on paper anyway, this looks to be a very solid team.

Chuck Hunter will lead the defense from his spot in the trenches as a 6-foot-1, 295-pound tackle.

Paul Turner, an LSU commit, will play both ways - as a corner on defense and at the helm of the offense at quarterback.

"Having an athlete like Turner coming back is huge for us," Shows said. "He is tremendously athletic, but many people don't know he also carries a 4.0 grade point average. He is very smart too."

Returning talented players at the highest level has also made Shows very smart, too.

"It isn't as much our scheme or any magical potion," Shows said. "In Northeast Louisiana, every Friday there is a state championship atmosphere somewhere."

And that isn't just at the Class 5A level. It's everywhere.

"Lots of people here are passionate," Shows said. "And there isn't a nickel's difference between the top teams in 4A or 5A. Football is football here."

And this year, West Monroe will be carrying the flag for the state.

"We like being out in front and have people looking at us," Shows said. "We push, push, and push more. Always with positive demands. Always. We expect the best from our kids. If you accept anything less than that, then it is your own fault. That is not how I operate."

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