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Daily Sun File photo/Ron Farmer

Timmy Hamilton takes off for a big run as Justus Revill (12) prepares to throw a block in a game from last season. Hamilton, who led the Lions in rushing last year, returns with five other starters on offense and five other starters on defense.

Dave Campbell's Texas Football Magazine is out at stores and news stands, and that marks the official start of high school football in Texas.

The Daily Sun will move around the Golden Circle and highlight what the legendary magazine wrote about the eight teams (Corsicana, Mildred, Blooming Grove, Rice, Kerens, Frost, Hubbard and Dawson) as we approach the first days of summer workouts, which begin on Aug. 2.

Texas Football does a tremendous job predicting every district race in the state and here's a look at 7-3A DII, one of the most competitive districts involving teams from the Golden Circle.

Blooming Grove, Mildred and Rice all live in 7-3A DII, and the threesome represents some of the most intense GC rivalries as well as some of the key players in the district.

Texas Football picked Edgewood as the favorite to win 7-3A with defending champ Palmer second, Blooming Grove third and Scurry-Rosser winning the fourth and final playoff spot. Rice was picked fifth followed by Mildred and Dallas Gateway.

The teams could finish in that order. Edgewood won six games and went 4-2 in the district race, and gave Blooming Grove all it wanted before Matt Beacom scored in the final minute to win the game for the Lions.

In fact, Blooming Grove went unbeaten in the district race and the only reason the Lions didn't win the district title was because of a flaw in the district that didn't provide an option to make up a game lost because of COVID-19.

Most of the other districts in the area re-arranged schedules in August so if a team had to forfeit a game because of COVID-19 the game could be made up on the last week of the regular season. They simply moved everyone's bye week to the final week to provide an an option.

Blooming Grove went unbeaten but had to forfeit to Palmer because of COVID-19 issues, and Palmer won the district title with a 4-1 record with a loss to Rice. Blooming Grove defeated Rice 51-7.

Blooming Grove has a new coach in Jeremy Gantt and a dozen returning starters, including QB Kelton Bell, who had a big year as a sophomore last season, and running backs Tim Hamilton and Jalen Coleman, who played half a season because of injuries last year after leading the Lions in rushing two years ago as a sophomore. Hamilton rushed for 579 yards on 84 carries (6.89 yards a carry) and six touchdowns and was an all-district first-team linebacker.

Junior Trent Nicholson was a monster on defense and was the district's Defensive Player of the Year and leads a defense that brings back six starters. But the Lions were picked third in the district ...

Rice, which has made the playoffs five years in a row, was picked to finish fifth -- which is news to the Rice players and fans who have managed to find a way to win and get to the postseason with different players and different offenses over the years because the Rice kids play with the same kind of drive and passion no matter who is in the huddle.

The Bulldogs have a new coach in Michael Scott, but there's nothing new about Scott's discipline, dedication and hard-nose brand of football or his knowledge and skill as a coach. He has been Rice's defensive coordinator for six years and is a huge reason the Bulldogs reached the playoffs the last five seasons. 

Mildred has had nothing but bad luck and tough breaks in recent years, but coach Duke Dalton and his kids are optimistic about making a run to the playoffs and excited about some newcomers, including QB Jake Callahan, who helped the Eagles reach the 7-on-7 state tournament for the first time in the program's history this summer, and the return of four-year starter Cody Hayes, a two-way starter and one of the leading receivers in the Golden Circle.

Don't be surprised if the Eagles fly by some teams in the district race and land in the playoffs. 

Gantt's coming home to the Grove after a long run as an offensive coordinator who has won everywhere he has been, and he brings his own brand of football -- especially on offense -- and his own energy to a winning program.

Blooming Grove could definitely win a title that the Lions deserved to win a year ago (or at least deserved the chance to win a year ago) and all three teams from the Golden Circle could end up in the playoffs. 

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