Minnesota's Stillwater High earns No. 1 ranking among impressive group of sites.
Temperatures are dropping. Leaves are turning. The smell of pigskin fills the air.
Yes, it’s high school football season, a great American tradition. What else unites communities big and small and from all corners of the country more than the local lads blocking and tackling under the Friday night lights?
The season is well underway, and there’s no better time than now to showcase the best high school football sites on the Sport Ngin platform. With so many outstanding candidates, it was exceedingly difficult to limit the best to a Top 5. We selected our favorites based mostly, as always, on depth and quality of content.
Are rosters decked out with photos, heights, weights and other basic info? Have complete statistics been entered? Are past games recapped and upcoming games previewed? Those were just some of the fundamentals we considered when assembling our rankings.
Location: Stillwater, Minn.
Webmaster: Chris Freichels
Stillwater is a far eastern suburb of the Twin Cities metro area located about 20 miles from St. Paul. The St. Croix River separates Wisconsin and Stillwater, which has a population of about 18,000. Stillwater High School has an enrollment of about 2,500. The school’s football team competes
modern-day widgets you would expect – Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feeds are displayed prominently on the home page. There’s also a highlight reel from the Ponies’ most recent game and a news feed that includes an article titled Ladies Night Chalk Talk. No kidding. There’s also a mountain of pages devoted to the program’s significant history, including a Ponies by the Numbers page that leads with this tidbit: 112 Seasons over 119 Years.
The Ponies’ coaching staff and team of statisticians are quick and thorough about keeping the team’s core information updated on the Star Tribune’s Minnesota Football Hub. That page is mirrored on the Ponies’ site.
The team’s events calendar is in a prime location on the home page, and the top navigation lists categories such as Tradition, Teams and Information.
Stillwater’s first school opened in 1846 and Minnesota’s first school district (District 1) was established in Stillwater in 1850.
The Tradition page includes a list of Stillwater’s most memorable games, dating back to 1971. There’s information on each game, including a recap of the Ponies’ 31-7 victory over Rochester Mayo for the 1995 state big-school championship, completing an undefeated season.
Lassiter is a high school in the Cobb County School District in the north Atlanta suburb of Marietta. It was founded in 1981, has an enrollment of just more than 2,000 and is home to a football program that competes in the state’s largest class (6A) and has
had winning seasons in five of the past six years.
The site is brimming with with content, starting with a news feed that is regularly updated with articles ranging from Mom’s Club news to video, photos and links on the Trojans taking the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The Record Book page provides details on the team’s record every season since 2001. Sponsors are smartly showcased in photo gallery formats.
The roster includes all the basics, including photos, heights and weights. The schedule is updated with final scores and is easy to find in a couple formats. We couldn’t find player or team statistics.
There’s so much content, the top navigation is loaded with links. The list of pages in the left vertical navigation offers another 20 options. All of the links are clearly labeled, so it’s not a mystery as to what you might find after clicking.
Lassiter High Schools is names for Leamond N. Lassiter, a member of the Cobb County Board of Education for 12 years.
The alumni page includes a Recruiting Roundup that lists which colleges current players have committed to and past players are attending. There’s also a table that lists the 22 Trojans who were on college rosters last season.
Location: Maple Grove, Minn.
A northwest Twin Cities suburb, Maple Grove has a population of about 60,000 and is 17 miles from downtown Minneapolis. Maple Grove High School opened in 1996 and has an enrollment of just more than 2,000. The Crimson compete in the state’s largest classification (6A).
Games are streamed live on the site, and highlight videos are posted quickly. Crimson coach Matt Lombardi shares his thoughts in a recurring series of Coaches Corner blog posts. We love history, and the site has a section devoted to Maple Grove records and another that lists state records, state champions and Mr. Football winners.
The site mirrors its page from the Minnesota Football Hub, where rosters, scores, schedules and stats all are kept up to date.
The top navigation buttons showcase the site’s best content, and there are more options running down the left rail. The home page includes links to a booster donation page and a printable roster and schedule.
Tahi Nomane holds an unbreakable school record for longest run from scrimmage, a 99-yard dash last year against Hopkins.
The Coaching Staff page includes photos and bios of all of the Crimson’s coaches all the way down to the freshman level.
Webmaster: Evan Maxey
Pinnacle High School sits on the northern edge of Phoenix and in the shadow of Pinnacle Peak to the northeast. The school opened in 2000 and has an enrollment of about 2,500. The Pioneers compete in Arizona's largest classification, Division I, and reached the state quarterfinals last year before losing to high-powered Chandler Hamilton.
There’s high quality video options all over the site’s home page and, of course, on the Videos page. Must-see watching is the clip of the video labeled “The Catch.” Beyond video, there’s a photo gallery, news feed, sponsors callout, multiple social media channels and most anything else you can think of loaded on the home page.
Individual photos are loaded on the rosters, and heights and weights are listed on the player pages. Statistics are updated after each game and easy to find in the top navigation.
Speaking of the top navigation, the valuable real estate there includes links to the team’s schedule, news and calendar.
Pinnacle quarterback Brian Lewerke, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior who committed to play at Michigan State last spring, turned down offers from 11 Division I schools, including Arizona and UCLA.
There’s a link to a Pinnacle desktop image on the home page, a sure hit with Pioneers fans.
The home page doesn’t suffer from information overload. The priorities are a news aggregator, team calendar, MaxPreps widget and social media and hudl video links. There’s also a countdown -- built with a custom background photo -- to the Wolverines’ next game.
We always like to see the pro quality individual player photos on the roster pages. Grade, heights and weights are vital information, too. But West Forsyth goes well beyond the basics. Twitter accounts, activities, college course study interests, general interest, favorite TV shows and favorite movies are categories filled out on some of the player pages. Stats are available through a widget directing viewers to the team’s MaxPreps page. The sponsors page is well organized and lists an amazing number of businesses supporting the program at various levels.
Not only do the team’s managers get their own page that houses a group photo, the Managers link appears in the top navigation. The rest of the navigation includes the standard links you would expect to see in the top navigation and secondary nav in the left rail.
West Forsyth grad Mohamed Camara turned down scholarship offers from Southern Miss, East Carolina, Central Florida and Western Kentucky to before committing to play for Steve Spurrier at South Carolina. West Forsyth’s alumni page does a great job of updating fans on the college exploits of former players.
Yes, that’s a song you are hearing when you pop open the site. Specifically, it is Aloe Blacc singing “The Man.”
Here are more outstanding sites that were in the judging mix but didn't crack the Top 5.
Wondering why your site didn't make the list? Want to put your site in the Top 5? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation.