District 11-2A Division II delivered some thrills last season and 2015 appears to be an even better year across the league.

Fruitvale is in its second consecutive season as an 11-man program and an athletic Mount Enterprise has the pieces to make a run barring injuries.

Tenaha has tradition and seems to be an eternal fountain of talent, but brand new head coach Craig Horn has to follow in the footsteps of modern legend Terry Ward. Can the group get it done and push for yet another regional finals appearance?

Timpson and Maud have firepower. And Overton makes a case for the most complete team.

Only four teams can advance from this league.

Which teams have the best shot? Let's take a look.

Christian Hammett makes a case for the best athleticism in District 11-2A Division II. One thing is for sure, you'll notice him on Friday nights on both sides of the ball. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

District 11-2A Division I Preview

PLAYMAKERS

  • Nick Baker, OL, Sr., Overton
  • Chandler Burgay, QB, Sr., Timpson
  • Triston Carlow, QB, Sr., Maud
  • Blane Cummings, DE, Sr., Tenaha
  • Colton Goeke, WR, Sr., Tenaha
  • Christian Hammett, QB/DB, Sr., Mount Enterprise
  • Kamron Hawkins, RB/LB, Sr., Overton
  • Julian Herndon, RB/LB, Sr., Overton
  • Kendall Mathis, OL, Sr., Maud
  • Jake McDonald, WR, Sr., Maud
  • Tyler Muckelroy, LB, Sr., Tenaha
  • Erik Rodriguez, OL, Jr. Overton
  • Gavino Rongel, WR, Sr., Fruitvale
  • Hayden Smith, RB, Sr., Timpson
  • Hunter Smith, LB, Sr., Timpson
  • Alex Sultz, OL, Soph., Maud
  • Kavonski Thompson, FB/DE, Sr., Mount Enterprise

 

TOP GAMES

  • Oct. 16 -- Overton at Timpson
  • Oct. 16 -- Maud at Mount Enterprise
  • Oct. 23 -- Timpson at Tenaha
  • Oct. 30 -- Maud at Timpson
  • Nov. 6 -- Mount Enterprise at Tenaha
  • Nov. 6 -- Overton at Maud

 

1. Tenaha Tigers

Coach: Craig Horn

2014 finish: 11-2 (2A Division II regional finalist)

Returning starters: 6 offensive, 5 defensive

Players to watch
  • WR Colton Goecke, Sr., 5-11, 165
  • DE Blane Cummings, Sr., 6-3, 220
  • LB Tyler Muckelroy, Sr., 5-10, 215
  • RB/DB LaDarius Garrett, Soph., 5-7, 145
  • LB Dicarlo Dudley, Sr.
  • LB Hunter Wagstaff,  Sr.

 

Offense: You can't sugarcoat it. The Tigers will feel the sting of losing East Texas' leading rusher from a year ago, Cobe Caraway, to graduation.

Tenaha has been in the situation plenty of times before though. And it has proven itself a hotbed for football talent.

Fortunately, half the supporting offense from last season returns. Senior receiver Colton Goeke leads the way with 579 yards and five touchdowns on just 37 catches last season to give the team aerial attack support.

Sophomore running back LaDarius Garrett's day has come. Don't be fooled by his 5-foot-7, 145-pound frame. He's supposed to be ready to go out of the box and will have two future seasons to perfect his craft.

Defense: This Tenaha team should be very strong where it counts. Up along the front seven.

Linebackers Tyler Muckelroy, Dicarlo Dudley and Hunter Wagstaff have adequate size and will be asked to snuff out the predominantly rushing attacks in District 11-2A Division II.

Then there's defensive end Blane Cummings. He's a 6-foot-3, 220-pound force that most schools state-wide will struggle to deal with.

Cummings recorded 60 tackles and three sacks from his end position last season. With another year in the weight room, expect more.

2015 outlook: Turnover at Tenaha has not been an issue in the past. This offseason was a little different, however.

Terry Ward, who never missed the playoffs and guided the team to at least the regional championship game in his final four seasons, decided to take on a new challenge at Harleton. The Tigers program has turned to Craig Horn.

It was a heck of an offseason for Horn. He left Hubbard on the heels of loss to Tenaha in the playoffs -- closing an 8-4 season -- to coach at Brady. But Tenaha called and he couldn't turn down the opportunity.

Horn put together four consecutive seasons with at least eight wins immediately following his first season, in which Hubbard went 0-10.

All that to say, the Tigers a proven winner with 11 returning starters from a four-round playoff team a season ago.

 

2. Timpson Bears

Coach: James Conway

2014 finish: 5-6 (2A Division II area round finalists)

Returning starters: 9 offensive, 8 defensive

Players to watch
  • QB Chandler Burgay, Sr., 5-10, 190
  • RB Hayden Smith, Sr., 6-0, 165
  • LB Hunter Smith, Sr., 6-0, 185
  • WR Devonta Thompson, Sr., 5-10, 160
  • OL Bryan Torres, Jr., 5-8, 230
  • OL Taujhmon Earl, Jr., 5-9, 215

 

Offense: It could be the league's best. The Bears return nine starters from a team that rallied from a 1-4 start to reach the area round of the 2A Division II playoffs last season.

Senior running back Hayden Smith will lead the charge and has a durable frame to go up against the remainder of the district's defenses.

Timpson also feels pretty good about its passing game. Quarterback Chandler Burgay and receiver Devonta Thompson seem to have a great connection and offer the unit a second dynamic.

Wrap it all around an experienced offensive line. The team does not have height along the line, but there is a lot of meat on it. It's going to be a tough task to move those guys.

Defense: Timpson is going to be more than competitive on this side of the ball.

Hunter Smith was selected by Dave Campbell's Texas Football as District 11-2A Division II's defensive Most Valuable Player and for good reason. He's 6-feet and 180 pounds with noticeable speed on tape.

The front seven gets even more punch from defensive end Cutter Smith, a quick, 6-foot-2 and 165-pound edge rusher.

In total, the Bears return eight defensive starters from a team that soundly beat every district opponent with exception to a loss against ultimate regional finalist Tenaha.

2015 outlook: Timpson ought to make it interesting, and it could take the district with an Oct. 23 win at Tenaha midway through the district calendar.

With 17 total returning starters, a district best, last year's area round appearance could just have been an appetizer for Bears fans.

 

3. Overton Mustangs

Coach: Josh Barton
2014 finish: 4-7 (2A Division II bi-district finalist)
Returning starters: 7 offensive, 8 defensive

Players to watch
  • RB Julian Herndon, Sr., 6-2, 215
  • RB/LB Kamron Hawkins, Sr., 5-7, 160
  • OL/DL Erik Rodriguez, Jr., 5-10, 160
  • OL/DL Nick Baker, Sr., 6-4, 285
  • RB/LB Tanner Lee, Jr., 5-9, 180
  • WR Joe Clark, Soph., 5-4, 150

 

Offense: It's looking great. The Mustangs return seven offensive linemen and just might have the most daunting offensive line in the district, at least from the size standpoint.

Center Erik Rodriguez and tackle Nick Baker are upward of 270 pounds, and the team has another emerging player in senior guard Jamal Luster.

Behind the line, there are plenty of running back options. The group is headlined by four-year starter Julian Herndon, but Kamron Hawkins is another strong runner that averaged 10 yards per carry on 33 runs last season.

Joe Clark rounds out the top performers with 310 yards on 20 catches last season. He gives the offense a quick strike aspect.

Defense: Overton has a lot of two-way key players.

Take those numbers from the offensive line and apply it to the defensive line. It's going to be difficult for competition to unplug the primary running lanes while linebacker Tanner Lee patrols off the offensive tackles.

Going up against the Mustangs' front seven is daunting, but the secondary should be another strong point.

Overton returns eight defensive starters.

2015 outlook: This is yet another team that should be there right until the end of district play. Overton will be looking for postseason positioning rather than simply a playoff berth.

Each game is really going to count for the Mustangs, but it has the tools it needs to stay competitive in each it plays against in the league.

4. Maud Cardinals

Coach: Allen Cross

2014 finish: 4-6

Returning starters: 7 offensive, 7 defensive

Players to watch
  • QB Triston Carlow, Sr., 6-0, 190
  • OL Kendall Mathis, Sr., 6-5, 330
  • OL Alex Sultz, Soph., 6-3, 240
  • WR Jake McDonald, Sr., 6-3, 190
  • WR Cooper Peavy, Jr., 5-10, 160

 

2015 outlook: New head coach Alex Mathis should enjoy what he has inherited, a team featuring 14 returning lettermen that is especially potent on the offensive side.

Quarterback Tristan Carlow will be in command of two very productive receivers. Jake McDonald and Cooper Peavy combined for 900 yards last season and should present the Cardinals with a bit of a different look that the rest of the district's offenses.

Maud's offensive line is impressive. Senior tackle Kendall Mathis is 6-foot-4 and 330 pounds.

The Cardinal's regular season finale at home against Overton is the single biggest game on the district slate.

 

5. Mount Enterprise Wildcats

Tyler Grubbs (8), quarterback Christian Hammett (6) and Kavonski Thompson (4) will have to shine on both sides of the ball to help Mount Enterprise get past depth issues. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Coach: Scott Holzhauer

2014 finish: 4-6

Returning starters: 7 offensive, 7 defensive

Players to watch
  • QB/DB Christian Hammett, Sr., 6-0, 175
  • FB/DE Kavonski Thompson, Sr., 5-10, 185
  • OL/DL Mikey Grubbs, Sr.
  • TE/DE Tyler Grubbs, Sr.
  • WR Blake Parham, Sr.

 

Offense: It could be a great year for Mount Enterprise. Athletic quarterback Christian Hammett returns for his senior season as does fullback Kavonski Thompson.

Hammett is the more known quantity. He completed about 50 percent of his passes for 1,223 yards and nine scores. The signal caller also can run.

Mount Enterprise will make some noise if Thompson breaks out. He pounded the rock for 439 yards and nine scores on just 88 carries.

Defense: Hammett also headlines the defense. He made 59 tackles and six sacks last season.

Mount Enterprise has some big bodies and seven returning starters from a team that performed well overall but struggled with injuries in district play.

2015 outlook: The biggest issue Mount Enterprise suffers from is depth. The school's enrollment is 102, making it dangerously close to being moved to six-man football with realignment coming up in February.

The Wildcats can simply not afford to lose anyone. Especially the 16 returning lettermen.

 

6. Fruitvale Bobcats

Coach: Ben Lassiter

2014 finish: 0-10

Returning starters: 7 offensive, 4 defensive

Players to watch
  • WR Gavino Rongel, Sr., 6-2, 180
  • QB Taylor McGinnis, Sr., 5-9, 165
  • RB/WR Cameron Lines, Jr., 5-10, 180

 

Offense: Fruitvale has the pieces to make some plays offensively with seven returning offensive starters.

Receiver Gavino Rongel and a solid hybrid running back and receiver Cameron Lines will lessen the load on athletic quarterback Taylor McGinnis.

The unit returns seven starters, making offense the probable strength for the Bobcats.

Defense: The team returns four starters from its 0-10 team from a year ago. Fruitvale's unit will really have to improve to be competitive this season.

2015 outlook: Fruitvale was a solid six-man football team up until a season ago and may or may not drop back during February's realignment process.

It's an enormous transition to and from six-man ball. The Bobcats just need to stay the course, improve their 11-man football program and see what happens next year.