The first edition of the power rankings is the most difficult.

For starters, there is no empirical data to work from, save for last year’s results when the rosters were vastly different.

Also, I did not see the teams in preseason. (Let me point out that there was an earthquake and a hurricane.)

Finally, this will be the list that can be flaunted in my face for the rest of the season. The mistakes can be held against me for the next three months.

I have talked to every coach, waded through rosters, studied statistics and know who graduated, so I’m not exactly shooting blind here.

It should be noted that as part of the chages to our website, the blog archives are gone, so don’t bother trying to tease me about last year’s rankings.

Well, here goes nothing.

1. River Hill (Last year: 9-1 league, 10-2 overall, 377 points for-117 points against)

Many readers are probably thinking: ‘River Hill, AGAIN!?’

But the Hawks have the top returning rusher, Aaron Wells, and a lot of talent on defense. They’ve also won more games than any team in the state over the last decade. They were also the only local team to beat Hammond last year. It’s not an exciting pick, but it makes sense when you think about it.

This week: home against Reservoir (all games are Friday night at 7).

2. Hammond (9-1, 10-2, 303-196)

It has been a good story to watch the Golden Bears rise up from mediocrity. With Dionte Jones and Devon Paye back on offense, there’s no reason why they can’t duplicate last year’s success, if not improve upon it.

This week: home against Wilde Lake.

3. Atholton (8-2, 8-3, 283-131)

It might not seem fair, but Atholton starts the season with a loss because of a practice infraction that resulted in a forfeit. Although the Raiders are capable of finishing 9-1 with the players they have back, including all-county quarterback Brian McMahon, one more loss would drop them to 8-2, which would likely put them in this spot.

This week: at Glenelg.

4. Wilde Lake (7-3, 11-3, 364-168)

The Wildecats graduated a bunch of outstanding players, but they’re still the defending state champs. They don’t have any big returners in the glamour positions, but players such as TE/DE Tom Klotz go a long way toward building a good team.

This week: at Hammond.