Daingerfield yesterday, Newton today. Yes, we’ve reached the true Class 2A bluebloods in our ETSN.fm 2A & Below Countdown.

One of the southernmost teams in the ETSN.fm coverage area may be among the last standing come playoff time. Former coach Curtis Barbay, who passed away during the 2010 season, built Newton into one of the state’s most recognizable small-school programs, winning two of the program’s three state championships and taking the Eagles to another. Now coach W.T. Johnston enters his second full season at the helm and has a team loaded with proven veterans who went 9-3 in 2011.

The backfield trio of quarterback D.J. Dean (committed to Utah as a DB) and running backs Kevin Shorter and Brandon Johnson will be among the best in Class 2A, while Corey Jenkins is coming off a huge junior season from his linebacker position. Newton gets an opportunity for revenge when the Eagles host Winnie East Chambers on Oct. 12 in perhaps the biggest game of the District 10-2A Division II schedule. That contest should serve as a playoff primer for Newton, which is expected to contend for a Division I state championship. In fact, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine ranks Newton No. 1 in the 2A Division I poll.

Chances are a championship round-caliber showdown will happen in the Region III title game. Newton and Tatum look like they’re on a collision course for the right to a state semifinal appearance. If that’s the case, the Region III champion will be more than prepared to face anyone standing in its path from the other three regions in the final two rounds.

The 2A & Below Countdown

No. 3: Daingerfield

No. 4: Arp

No. 5: Crockett

No. 6: Elysian Fields

No. 7: New Boston

No. 8: Hughes Springs

No. 9: San Augustine

No. 10: Tenaha