Hi! Joe Bailey here, the assistant sports editor at Lee Central Coast Newspapers.

We're four weeks away from the football season.


It's been a long offseason and it's never fun spending eight months without a lick of football. So, to help the healing process and get ready for Aug. 25, I've compiled a list of 60 names. The kids attached to these names are area football players.

In fact, I think they are the top 60 returning football players in the Santa Maria Times coverage area, from southern San Luis Obispo County to pretty much all of northern Santa Barbara County, or Arroyo Grande to Santa Ynez. 

(This is limited to just 11-man players, though I know there are certainly some 8-man guys who would easily be on this list).

I'll be releasing 10 names about once per week, with the Top 10 coming out the week the season starts. 

As a disclaimer, this is all from me. So if I miss someone or you think my rankings are skewed, let me know. I also tried to avoid last year's All-League lists as much as I could to get a truer sense of who the top returning players are. By doing that it increased my chances of missing a player or two. But I think I've got it covered.

Now, the rankings aren't fully based off last year's numbers or whatever else. I'm also predicting an increase or perhaps a decrease in production this year, so there is some guesswork involved here. And, remember, this is also supposed to be fun, so don't take it too seriously.

So, today, we're starting with No. 60 and ending at No. 51.