No team in East Texas has as many returning starters as Elysian Fields.

The Yellow Jackets have all but a couple of first-teamers back from their 2011 8-3 team, which snapped a three-year playoff drought that started a season after the Jackets reached the state championship game for the third time in 10 years.

Elysian Fields won’t have one of the region’s top recruits -- defensive tackle Isaiah Golden, a 6-2, 330-pound Texas A&M commitment who had eight sacks each of the last two seasons for the Jackets before moving to Carthage -- but the rest of the defense is back, including all-state selection Bruce Woods, linebacker Tanner Norman, and defensive end Clay Vance. The Jackets surrendered only 16.2 points per game during the 2011 regular season, which saw EF hold six opponents to 14 or fewer points.

Elysian Fields’ Oct. 26 home game against Hughes Springs looms large in the District 9-2A Division II slate as the game that could potentially decide the league’s champion. But the Jackets first must survive a challenging non-district schedule that starts with vs. Corrigan-Camden, at Jefferson, and vs. Arp, another one of the top teams in the region.

If Elysian Fields gets rolling late in the regular season and into the playoffs, the Jackets’ Sept. 14 matchup with Arp could be a preview of the Region III championship game.

The 2A & Below Countdown

No. 7: New Boston

No. 8: Hughes Springs

No. 9: San Augustine

No. 10: Tenaha