Texas Football has arrived.
In more ways than one.
The first glimpse into the 2014 season arrived Tuesday when Dave Campbell's Texas Football magazine showed up to unofficially kick off the new year in football in the Lone Star State.
The magazine, which previews the NFL, college football and every high school football team in Texas has Hubbard ranked No. 15 in the Class 2A DII state poll and is picking Blooming Grove to win the newly formed District 9-3A DII title.
Some are calling Corsicana's new district the toughest in the state, and Texas Football believes in the strength of District 16-5A.
Just look at the Class 5A preseason state poll. Ennis is ranked fourth, Tyler John Tyler is ranked eighth and Lufkin, which dropped down a class, is ranked No. 12 in the state. Whitehouse, which lost the Texas Player of the Year in Patrick Mahomes to Texas Tech, is ranked No. 18.
That means for Corsicana to reach the playoffs with a top four finish in the district, the Tigers will have to surge ahead of at least one of four state-ranked teams in the Top 20 just to get to the postseason.
Texas Football is picking the Tigers to finish sixth in the new eight-team district that has Central Texas rivals Corsicana and Ennis playing against six school's from East Texas.
“I might be (the toughest district in Texas),'' Corsicana Coach Steve Hoffman said. “We know what it is. We know we are going to have to get better. We are going to have to get stronger this summer. We feel good about our team. We've just got to grow.''
The classifications are new (just add an A as Class 1A is now Class 2A, Class 2A is now Class 3A etc. etc.) because six-man football s now being called Class 1A, and most of the district lineups have changed for Golden Circle teams. But the goal is the same — win a district title or at least make the playoffs.
There might be a different feeling at Blooming Grove when the season kicks off. Texas Football has picked the Lions as the preseason favorite to win District 9-3A DII.
“Oh no! They've put the bull's eye on us right from the start in the first year,'' BG first-year Coach Lawrence Williams said when he heard the news. “Well, that's what we're going to be shooting for any way. If you want to be the best you have to work hard. That's where we want to be.
“Being picked No. 1 in the district means people respect you,'' said Williams, who has been the defensive coordinator the past two seasons at Blooming Grove. “They have earned it. I don't know when the last time Blooming Grove was picked No. 1 in the district. We've been to the playoffs the last two years and they have earned some respect from people.''
BG quarterback and kicker Tyler Ellis was named the preseason pick as the 9-3A DII Offensive Player of the Year by the magazine and was a slam dunk choice as a preseason choice to be the Class 3A All-State kicker. Ellis, whose 48-yard field goal with seven seconds left beat Jacksboro in the bi-district round of the playoffs, was named the All-State kicker last season.
The Lions were the preseason No. 1 choice while Mildred was picked to finish third behind BG and Maypearl. Palmer was picked fourth and Rice, which has its eyes on the playoffs, was picked fifth. Rio Vista was the sixth pick in the six team district.
Kerens is now in District 11-2A DI and Texas Football is picking the Bobcats fourth in a district that has Alto, Cayuga and Price Carlisle ranked ahead of the Bobcats.
There are four Golden Circle teams in District 10-2A DII, headed by Hubbard, which has won back-to-back district titles. The Jaguars lost to Chilton in the second round of the playoffs last year and will have to beat Chilton to win a third district title in a row. Chilton moves over to the new district and is picked to win the eight-team district.
Hubbard was picked to finish second and won some respect from the magazine as quarterback Braydyn Gillham was chosen as the preseason Offensive Player of the Year.
Frost, which has a new coach in Steve Burkett, is picked to finish fifth in District 10-2A DII. Wortham is picked seventh and Dawson is picked to finish eighth in a district that now includes Italy, which is picked to finish third and district rival Meridian, which is picked fourth.