It's looking good for Groveton this season, fresh off a playoff appearance and an additional playoff slot opening across all Class 2A districts for the 2015 season and beyond.

The Indians return 12 total starters and only lost two letter winners to graduation. There's a lot of athleticism on this team. That's going to help when going up against a heavyweight like Centerville.

Of course, there are challenges ahead of the lone East Texas team in the district.

Centerville, which reached the regional final round last season, returns its most essential pieces.

Lovelady also appears to have some talent once again while Anderson-Shiro will be seeking revenge against Groveton after losing the head-to-head tiebreaker for the final spot despite a 7-3 overall record.

The bottom half of the league could be tougher. Hull-Daisetta has some players, and there's really nowhere to go but up for Saratoga West Hardin after a brutal district stretch last time around.

Groveton's season is just 25 days away. Let's take a look at its District 12-2A Division I.

District 12-2A Division I Preview

PLAYMAKERS

  • OL/dl Jackson Carrell, Sr., Anderson-Shiro
  • OL/DL Collin Chessel, Jr., Saratoga West Hardin
  • WR/DB Dawson Chumley, Jr., Groveton
  • TE/DL Taylor Connell, Sr., Lovelady
  • QB/LB Garrett Creel, Sr., Saratoga West Hardin
  • RB/DL C.J. Denman, Sr., Centerville
  • FB/LB Trevor Goolsby, Sr., Centerville
  • OL/DT Dustin Ham, Sr., Lovelady
  • QB/LB Koy Howle, Jr., Centerville
  • QB/DB Peyton Igo, Sr., Anderson-Shiro
  • WR/DB Petey Little, Jr., Lovelady
  • RB/DB Nick Martinez, Sr., Groveton
  • RB/LB Brandon Maughan, Jr., Hull-Daisetta
  • RB Dalton Robinett, Soph., Hull-Daisetta
  • OL/DL Kenny Searcy, Sr., Centerville
  • QB/DB Glenn Thornton, Jr., Groveton
  • RB/LB Daylan Williams, Sr., Anderson-Shiro

 

TOP GAMES

  • Lovelady at Centerville, Oct. 9
  • Centerville at Groveton, Oct. 16
  • Anderson-Shiro at Hull-Daisetta, Oct. 16
  • Groveton at Lovelady, Oct. 23

 

1. Centerville Tigers

  • Coach: Kyle Hardee
  • 2014 finish: 10-4 (2A D-I regional finalist)
  • Returning starters: 4 offensive, 4 defensive
Players to watch
  • OL/DL Kenny Searcy, Sr., 6-2, 265
  • RB/DE C.J. Denman, Sr., 6-2, 226
  • FB/LB Trevor Goolsby, Sr., 6-0, 195
  • QB/LB Koy Howle, Jr., 5-10, 200
  • OL/LB Derian Guzman, Sr., 5-9, 190
  • OL/LB Garrett Wager, Jr., 5-10, 165

 

2015 outlook: Centerville isn't in the best shape in terms of returning starters, with four on each side of the ball, but the most major offensive contributors returned while the defense also retained key pieces. The Tigers blew away all district competition last season, outscoring the group 238-34. With the key pieces, head coach Kyle Hardee's program then took out San Augustine, Carlisle and Alto in consecutive weeks before falling to Class 2A Division I state runner-up Mason.

The Tigers run a Wing-T offense with the running back C.J. Denman and fullback Trevor Goolsby returning into the fold. While the offensive line is a bit gutted from graduation, bringing back All-State selection Kenny Searcy helps, and the team has quite a bit of size to choose from for other line positions.

Centerville has advertised a fierce linebacking corps this offseason. That's essential in a district that has its share of run-heavy teams. Some offensive linemen will play both ways to shore up the front seven.

You can't discount the Tigers' run to the regional finals last season. It will certainly give the carryovers confidence. But big district tests begin early in October when Centerville takes on Lovelady, a two-round playoff team last season, and then Groveton the very next week.

 

2. Lovelady Lions

  • Coach: Kerry Therwhanger
  • 2014 finish: 9-3 (2A D-II area finalist)
  • Returning starters: N/A
Players to watch
  • TE/DE Taylor Connell, Sr., 6-5, 230
  • OL/DL Dustin Ham, Sr., 5-10, 280
  • WR/DB Petey Little, 6-2, 190
  • RB/WR/DB Jacob Jeffus, Sr., 5-10, 165

 

2015 outlook: The Lions did not share very much preseason information with the state-wide media. The scoreboard doesn't lie though. While going 3-2 in district play, Lovelady held league opponents to a second-best 72 points last season and returns a handful of two-way starters.

Kyle Therwhanger's squad's 2014 season ended with a 14-7 loss to Union Grove in the Class 2A Division I area round. Union Grove comfortably won 10 out of 11 games -- all victories -- before being shellshocked by an outstanding Alto team, which in turn fell to Centerville.

Groveton will get its say against Lovelady on Oct. 23.

3. Groveton Indians

  • Coach: Brandon Clause
  • 2014 finish: 4-7 (2A D-II bi-district finalist)
  • Returning starters: 6 offensive, 6 defensive
Players to watch
  • RB/WR/DB Nick Martinez, Sr., 5-9, 180
  • QB/DB Glenn Thornton, Jr., 6-2, 165
  • WR/DB Dawson Chumley, Jr., 6-2, 160
  • RB/DL/LB Jonathan Eleby, Sr.

 

Offense: Indians fans will enjoy an offense with six carryovers from last season. The group put up a district second-best 159 points behind Centerville a year ago.

Glenn Thornton will handle duties under center once again and can do it all out of a spread offense. He passed for about 2,300 yards and ran well when his number was called.

Adding receivers Dawson Chumley, Nick Martinez and sophomore Saul Chavez doesn't hurt. All three made some big runs last season after the catch and first contact.

The major key will be sorting out offensive line turnover. If the Indians have some trench players emerge, it could be a much better season than last year's 4-7. Which was still good enough for a trip into the postseason.

Defense: Groveton played in some shootouts last year. Returning six defensive starters is huge.

The thing that stands out the most, the Indians' secondary is probably the most complete among the district's teams. Glenn Thornton, Nick Martinez and Dawson Chumley will all be back there at times.

Don't discount the front though. There are several bulky players, especially at linebacker, to gum up running lanes.

2015 outlook: The Indians' 12 returning starters puts the team in the middle pack in terms of continuity. Even better, the team only graduated two players in May.

As of this season, four Class 2A teams from each district make the playoffs. This team is well-built to be one of the four from the league without even exploring the new starters.

Each game is going to count though. The pack Groveton finished in last season has improved. Taking care of business against Anderson-Shiro, Hull-Daisetta and Saratoga West Hardin is imperative.

4. Anderson-Shiro Owls

  • Coach: Andy Sexton
  • 2014 finish: 7-3 (missed playoffs)
  • Returning starters: 9 offensive, 8 defensive
Players to watch
  • RB/LB Daylan Williams, Sr. 5-8, 195
  • OL/DL Jackson Carrell, Sr., 6-0, 300
  • QB/DB Peyton Igo, Sr., 5-10, 175
  • OL/DL Dylan Bohnert, Sr., 6-3, 200

 

2015 outlook: Here's the dark horse of District 12-2A Division I.

The Owls went 7-3 overall last season with a 3-2 district record and lost a tiebreaker to Groveton to fall out of the postseason picture. Anderson-Shiro returns a league-best 17 starters and has another playoff spot to work with as Class 2A jumps from three slots to four.

Last year's experiences should help this squad play more competitively against the top district teams.

 

5. Hull-Daisetta Bobcats

  • Coach: Stan Hodges
  • 2014 finish: 4-6
  • Returning starters: 5 offensive, 4 defensive
Players to watch
  • RB Dalton Robinett, Soph., 5-10, 165
  • RB Brandon Maughan, Jr., 5-8, 160
  • OL/DL Kyle Rayon, 6-1, 230

 

2015 outlook: The great news is Hull-Daisetta has two running backs head coach Stan Hodges is excited about this season. The Bobcats utilize the Wing-T offensive scheme, so having strong backs is the single most important aspect of its offense.

The team averaged 37.1 points last season, but it gave up an average of 33 points -- way to close for comfort. Hull-Daisetta's defense is nearly a mystery with only four starters returning. It should be noted, however, there's great size in the trenches.

Games against Groveton, Anderson-Shiro and Saratoga West Hardin are the biggest on the schedule.

 

6. Saratoga West Hardin Oilers

  • Coach: Michael Atkinson
  • 2014 finish: 2-8
  • Returning starters: 6 offensive, 6 defensive
Players to watch
  • OL/DL Collin Chesson, Jr., 5-11, 260
  • QB Garrett Creel, Sr., 5-10, 170
  • FB/LB Brian Adams, Sr., 5-11, 200
  • WR/DB Hunter Barton, Sr., 6-0, 160

 

2015 outlook: West Hardin was not competitive in the district a year ago. Bringing back six starters on both sides of the ball is the most positive sign toward a bounce back.

Nose tackle Collin Chesson made 50 tackles last season, a nice number for his position.

The Oilers need to improve dramatically on offense. The team was outscored 381-186 in 10 games last season. Quarterback Garrett Creel is a good starting point. He passed for 1,478 yards last season and added 10 rushing touchdowns.