The Star-Tribune sports department has been selecting its Super 25 prep football team since 1991.
For the first seven years the Super 25 selection process was a joint effort between the Star-Tribune and the Wyoming Radio Network. In 1998, however, the Star-Tribune sports department took control of selecting the Super 25 team, as well as making second- and third-team selections.
Needless to say, it’s a time-consuming process.
Selecting the team actually begins as soon as the previous season ends. Underclassmen who earn Super 25 status are placed at the front of the list for consideration the following year. And players who earned all-state status as underclassmen also figure prominently into the watch list.
Leading into the season, players who receive college offers or start drawing the attention of college coaches are added to the list if they’re not already on it.
And then the season begins and some players who had flown under the radar the previous season suddenly jump into the mix.
As the season progresses, certain players start putting up stats that are hard to ignore. Score five touchdowns? Run for 200-plus yards? Throw for 300-plus yards? Lead a last-minute touchdown drive? All of those things will earn a player some much-deserved attention.
Unfortunately, we don’t have the resources or the manpower to watch every game. Then again, who does?
So we have to rely on video highlights and the stats that coaches provide. But that only works for the skill-position players – quarterbacks, running backs, receivers – and defensive players.
The players most often overlooked by the fans and the media are offensive and defensive linemen. Or, as longtime Natrona County coach Steve Harshman calls them, “the big-skill” players.
That’s where the most important part of the Super 25 selection process comes into play: the coaches.
We reach out to every coach toward the end of the season, asking them to name their top players as well as the top opponents their team faced throughout the season, regardless of position.
It’s the final piece of the Super 25 puzzle, but it’s far and away the most crucial.
In the end, we sit down as a staff and go over our selections. Usually, the first 15-20 players are easy choices, either because of their season stats or overwhelming support from the coaches.
The last few picks, year in and year out, are the most difficult. I can’t remember a year when we didn’t have four or five players for the final two or three slots.
Selecting the Super 25 is not a perfect process. But I think it’s safe to say that every player chosen over the past 27 years deserved to be on the team.
I’m proud to say I've had a hand in selecting 12 of the 27 teams to date, and I’m already looking forward to helping pick the next one.