Jacksonville Daily Progress
The arrival of Dave Campbell's Texas Football magazine, which is scheduled to start appearing on newsstands this week, means we are one step closer to the start of the 2013 high school football season.
According to the prognosticator's at Texas Football, the Jacksonville Indians, Rusk Eagles and Bullard Panthers all share at least one thing in common — due to significant losses to graduation, none of the trio of schools is predicted to advance to the post season.
The Tribe, coming off of a 4-7 campaign last year, have been slotted into the fifth position in District 16-4A, the team's lowest pre-season ranking in several years, behind Whitehouse, John Tyler, Corsicana and Nacogdoches — Lindale is picked to bring up the rear.
The big concerns for the Tribe are the loss of 30 letterman from a season ago and the fact the team returns just three starters on defense.
Rusk brings back eight starters, four on each side of the line, off of a 5-5 team of a year ago.
Therefore the Eagles will be young, especially on offensive side, where a big question exists concerning who will emerge as the teams's starting quarterback.
Texas Football likes Palestine to finish first in District 19-3A, followed by Fairfield and Groesbeck. Mexia rounds things out in the five-team circuit.
Bullard lost 16 men to graduation, with many of those being the movers and shakers from 2012.
Head coach Shannon Wilson's Panthers finished a respectable 7-3 overall last year, 3-3 in the brutal District 16-3A, and while predicting a playoff berth with the likes of Gilmer, Kilgore and Henderson being tabbed to finish ahead of Bullard may be out of the question, the Panthers could surprise some folks if the young talent gels early enough.
In what could be considered a surprising choice, Texas Football slotted Troup to finish in third place in District 9-2A-I, despite the fact that head coach Dennis Alexander's Tigers return quarterback Blake Lynch, a junior, who has already received heavy NCAA Division I recruiting attention from schools such as Mississippi State and Baylor.
Tatum and White oak are forecast to go 1-2 in the loop, with Jefferson, Harmony and Sabine trailing Troup in the predicted pecking order.
Brook Hill returns a whooping 27 lettermen, but the Guard will be under the direction of a brand new head coach in Bobby Brasher this season.
The Guard finished 6-5 in 2013 and are picked third in TAPPS Division II-2, behind Metroplex powers Dallas Christian and and Dallas Parish Episcopal.
Tyler Grace is fourth, followed by Carrollton Prince of Peace, Tyler T. K. Gorman, Dallas Shelton and Cedar Hill-Trinity Christian.
The area's lone school given the nod to win its conference is Alto, who also has a new mentor in Paul Gould.
The Yellowjackets return 21 men off of an 11-3 team of a year ago, with running back Jacolby Whitaker being one of those returnees.
Whitaker, who rushed for just south of 2,700 yards last year as a junior, is Texas Football's Pre-Season Offensive Most Valuable Player for District 9-A-I.
Pineland West Sabine, San Augustine and Grapeland are the remaining teams that are expected to contest playoff spots.