Jacksonville High School head football coach Wayne Coleman and the guys at Dave Campbell's Texas Football magazine, which is expected to be available at retailers this week, disagree on how the District 9-5A-II race will unfold this fall.
Texas Football predicts the Indians to finish in sixth place in the eight-team loop, while Coleman, who is in his fifth season at the helm of the Jacksonville program, says that he believes his team to be one of the four playoff representatives from the conference when the regular season draws to a close in early November.
“I think the district as a whole has tightened up from top to bottom since last year and everyone seems to be a lot closer to one another in ability,” Coleman said. “We think we have a team that can make the playoffs this season; that is out goal.
“It want be easy because there isn't much that separates us from the other teams.”
Coleman and Texas Football do see eye-to-eye on one thing: the Marshall Mavericks appear to be in the drivers' seat on repeating as league champions.
“I see Marshall, Lindale and Whitehouse as three teams that will be reloading this year,” Coleman said. “I think we are right there with Pine Tree and Hallsville. We missed the (playoff) taste last year and I think that we will be hungry.”
Coleman said that doesn't know what to fully expect from Nacogdoches and Mount Pleasant, who both have new coaches in Darren Allman and Ritchie Pinkard, respectively.
Jake Griedl has moved up from offensive coordinator to head coach at Marshall, who went undefeated in loop play last year, giving the circuit three new mentors this season.
“Marshall promoted from within and retained most of its coaching staff, and return most of the starters from last year, so I expect them to be awfully tough again,” Coleman said.
Jacksonville could receive a boost by playing six of its 10 regular season games, including four district affairs, at the Historic Tomato Bowl.
“That could be an advantage for us, no question,” Coleman said. “I think everyone knows home field advantage is a real thing.”
Coleman also outlined how playing six home games in the newly refurbished Tomato Bowl could be a disadvantage if the Tribe do not stay in the proper frame of mind.
“The kids will be pumped up, playing in the Tomato Bowl for the first time (since the remodel was done),” he said. “We are going to have to work on keeping out emotions in check and not get ourselves in a position of trying to do too much.”
Jacksonville will open the regular season at home on Aug. 30 by taking on Carthage, a Class 4A-II state semi-finalist last year.
The Indians' first district game scheduled for the Tomato Bowl is set for Oct. 4, when Whitehouse's Wildcats come to town.
Editor's note: Texas Football predicts District 9-5A-II to shake out as follows: 1. Marshall, 2. Nacogdoches, 3. Pine Tree, 4. Lindale, 5. Whitehouse, 6. Jacksonville, 7. Hallsville, 8. Mount Pleasant.