SOUTHLAKE — Ask a coach what he thinks about his team's ranking, and you'll usually get an answer like this:
"Well I don't know. It is what it is," said Tom Westerberg, head coach of the defending 5A Division I champion Allen Eagles. "I don't have a choice to say where we are."
MaxPreps says Allen is number four... in the U.S.A.
The website's national football editor said they have been doing a national ranking for the last five or six years. Stephen Spiewak is in charge of MaxPreps' Xcellent 25, which claims to rank the top 25 high school football teams in the country.
The most recent poll includes five teams from Texas, and four from the Dallas-Fort Worth area: Allen, Coppell, DeSoto, Southlake Carroll, and Katy.
"We try to identify top teams in certain markets and certain states," said MaxPreps' Spiewak, who is based in the Chicago area. "And once we have those top teams from different areas, we try to figure out how they slot in nationally."
Spiewak added that they survey about a thousand coaches after the season ends, to get their opinions on their teams and other very good ones in their area. They also consult with local sportswriters to learn which teams are the best in their respective state.
DeSoto is ranked 14th in the national poll.
"We do talk about rankings, because around here you can't dodge that," said Claude Mathis, DeSoto's head coach. "One way or the other it's going to come out. Someone's going to ask them about it, so we have to address the issue, and our issue is, it matters how you finish at the end of the year."
Hal Wasson's Southlake Carroll team won a state title in 2011, and they're ranked 23rd in this poll.
"I just care how we finish," said Wasson. "Honestly, I don't look at those polls. I guess it's a good conversation piece, but the only poll we're interested in is this Friday night [against Allen]."
Coppell head coach Joe McBride, whose Cowboys are ranked 12th, suggested a question for Spiewak.
"Is this trying to throw parity across the states or is this what you really think?" asked McBride. "Because everybody knows, in the top 25, half of them ought to be from Texas. Period."
"That's the beauty of high school sports, is you can puff your chest out and you say, 'my team and my region is the best,' and that's the fun of it," Spiewak said.
All the national rankings for high school teams make for interesting talk, but at the end of the day, that's all it is — talk.
Unlike in college football, where rankings determine who plays for the national championship, high school teams still have to win it on the field.