Sulphur Springs finds itself the lone East Texas team in District 8-5A Division II.

The Wildcats will likely fight for the last playoff spot with a slew of other teams. Ennis, North Forney and Corsicana seem obvious picks to make it, but the final spot is up for grabs.

Sulphur Springs will have to contend with Kaufman, Royse City and Greenville, all who will be equally hungry to make the postseason. There will be plenty of other storylines to follow, such as the inaugural season of Forney's Aaron Woods and Sam Harrell taking over for Jack Alvarez.

Sulphur Springs will hand the reigns to D'Corian Young at quarterback, and his progression will be another story to keep an eye on.

There's plenty of excitement, so without further ado, here is the District 8-5A Division II preview.

District 8-5A Division II Preview

Sulphur Springs QB D'Corian Young. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

PLAYMAKERS

  • RB James Harris, Sr., 5-9, 210, Ennis
  • RB Jarius Jones, Jr., 6-2, 235, Ennis
  • ATH Jaylin Smith, Sr., North Forney
  • DL Cliff Funderbunk, Sr., 6-3, 240, North Forney
  • QB Blake Hoffman, Sr., 5-10, 175, Corsicana
  • WR Drew Denbow, Jr., Corsicana
  • LB/RB Dajioun Nathan, Sr., 5-10, 174, Corsicana
  • QB Trey Collier, Sr., 6-0, 155, Kaufman
  • WR/DB Cecil Gasper, Sr., 5-8, 119, Kaufman
  • QB D'Corian Young, Sr., 6-0, 170, Sulphur Springs
  • WR/DB Landry Tyson, Sr., 6-2, 185, Sulphur Springs
  • RB/DB Colton Allen, Sr., 5-6, 180, Sulphur Springs
  • LB Cason Churchman, Sr., 6-1, 170, Sulphur Springs
  • RB/DB Payton Petroff, Jr., 5-10, 210, Royse City
  • RB/LB Bryce Martinez, Jr., 5-11, 185, Royse City
  • QB Caleb Jarvis, Sr., 6-1, 170, Greenville
  • WR/DB Nick Mapps, Sr., 5-7, 165, Greenville
  • QB Micah Skinner, Sr., 5-10, 185, Terrell
  • LB Jaquavious Morris, Jr., 5-8, 160, Terrell
  • LB Jaqwondis Burns, Jr., 6-2, 185, Terrell
  • WR Sean Stephens, Sr., 5-11, 165, Forney
  • WR Austin Ream, Sr., 6-0, 195, Forney

TOP GAMES

  • Corsicana at Sulphur Springs, Oct. 19
  • Kaufman at Sulphur Springs, Nov. 2
  • Sulphur Springs at Greenville, Oct. 26
  • Ennis at North Forney, Sept. 21

1. Ennis Lions

  • Coach: Sam Harrell
  • 2017 finish: 8-4 (5A Division I area finalist)
  • Returning starters: 5 offensive, 3 defensive

Players to watch

  • RB James Harris, Sr., 5-9, 210
  • RB Jarius Jones, Jr., 6-2, 235
  • QB Dylan Santos, Jr., 5-8, 165
  • LB Dane Vernor, Jr., 5-11, 182
  • DB Ryan Casas, Sr., 5-11, 175
  • DL Clayton Jenkins, So., 6-0, 200
  • DL Deryous Stokes, So., 6-0, 230

2018 outlook: Sam Harrell takes over Ennis after coach Jack Alvarez bolted for Copperas Cove. The Lions should still finish near the top of their district, especially after a move down from 5A D-I. James Harris returns after a 1,000-yard season this past season and Jarius Jones will share time in the backfield with him after converting from tight end. Dane Vernor and Ryan Casas will look to lead a defense that returns only three starters. Look for the Lions to be a team that makes some noise once again.

2. North Forney Falcons

  • Coach: Randy Jackson
  • 2017 finish: 10-3 (5A Division II regional semifinalist)
  • Returning starters: 5 offensive, 5 defensive

Players to watch

  • ATH Jaylin Smith, Sr.
  • DL Cliff Funderbunk, Sr., 6-3, 240
  • LB Roby Robinson, 5-10, 175
  • OL John Taylor, Sr., 6-3, 260
  • RB/DB Jacob Soto, Jr., 5-9, 163

2018 outlook: Jaylin Smith will play a big role after transferring from Dallas Christian. He can play several positions including quarterback, receiver and defensive back. Cliff Funderbunk gives the defense size up front and has the tools to play after high school. John Taylor will anchor the offensive line. All signs point to another playoff appearance for the Falcons.

3. Corsicana Tigers

  • Coach: Steve Hoffman
  • 2017 finish: 6-5 (5A Division II bi-district finalist)
  • Returning starters: 8 offensive, 6 defensive

Players to watch

  • QB Blake Hoffman, Sr., 5-10, 175
  • WR Drew Denbow, Jr.
  • LB/RB Dajioun Nathan, Sr., 5-10, 174
  • DL Melvin Martin, Sr., 6-1, 230
  • DB/WR Darious Coleman, Sr., 5-10, 168

2018 outlook: Blake Hoffman will pace the offense at quarterback He is coming off of a season in which he finished with 2,558 total yards and 24 touchdowns. Top target Drew Denbow returns and Darious Coleman will look to emerge as the second option. The defense will be scary with defensive lineman Melvin Martin, who had 14 sacks a year ago, and linebacker Dajioun Nathan. Corsicana will certainly compete in this district and likely in the playoffs as well.

4. Kaufman Lions

  • Coach: Jeramy Burleson
  • 2017 finish: 12-2 (4A Division I regional finalist)
  • Returning starters: 8 offensive, 7 defensive

Players to watch

  • QB Trey Collier, Sr., 6-0, 155
  • WR/DB Cecil Gasper, Sr., 5-8, 119
  • RB Jay Gasper, 5-8, 155
  • OL Landon Taylor, Sr.
  • DL Montana Booker

2018 outlook: Trey Collier is back after recording more than 3,000 total yards in 2017. He will again lead the Lions under center. Cecil Gasper, his No. 1 weapon from last season, is back as well. Jay Gasper rounds out what should be an explosive offense from the backfield. Montana Booker will lead the defense after finishing with 81 tackles and four sacks a season ago.

Sulphur Springs' (from left) Landry Tyson, D'corian Young, and Austin Dodd. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

5. Sulphur Springs Wildcats

  • Coach: Greg Owens
  • 2017 finish: 5-6 (5A D-II bi-district finalist)
  • Returning starters: 6 offensive, 5 defensive

Players to watch

  • QB D'Corian Young, Sr., 6-0, 170
  • WR/DB Austin Dodd, Sr., 5-10, 175
  • WR/DB Landry Tyson, Sr., 6-2, 185
  • RB/DB Colton Allen, Sr., 5-6, 180
  • LB Kylan Wade, Jr., 6-1, 195
  • LB Cason Churchman, Sr., 6-1, 170
  • WR/DB Damiyon Dugan, Sr., 5-8, 146
  • DL Evan Rushing, Sr., 6-0, 210
  • WR/LB Bryce McQueen, Sr., 6-1, 185
  • DL Jose Rodriguez, Sr., 5-11, 227

Offense: D'Corian Young will take over as the full-time starter after getting limited experience this past season. He'll have plenty of options to throw to, including Landry Tyson, who is the leading returning receiver with 331 yards in 2017.

Sulphur Springs WR/DB Landry Tyson. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Colton Allen will be the main back after rushing for 722 yards a season ago. The offensive line will need to show its worth, but the Wildcats' offense should be solid.

Defense: Linebackers will be the strength of the defense. Cason Churchman is back after finishing with 51 tackles and will get help from Kylan Wade and Bryce McQueen.

Sulphur Springs WR/LB Bryce McQueen. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Linemen Evan Rushing and Jose Rodriguez also show promise. Sulphur Springs will need them to have big seasons after the graduation of star lineman Dee Dugan.

2018 outlook: Sulphur Springs will be a fringe playoff team in 2018. It won't be easy in this district, but the Wildcats should at least be in the conversation toward the end of the year. If Young can build on his junior season and the defense has a couple of players emerge to fill the voids left from 2017, Sulphur Springs will be a decent squad.

6. Royse City Bulldogs

  • Coach: David Petroff
  • 2017 finish: 4-6
  • Returning starters: 5 offensive, 6 defensive

Players to watch

  • RB/DB Payton Petroff, Jr., 5-10, 210
  • RB/LB Bryce Martinez, Jr., 5-11, 185
  • QB Tyson Oliver, Jr., 5-9, 145
  • DB Roderick Roberson, Sr., 6-0, 165
  • OL Ivan DeLeon, Sr.

2018 outlook: The Bulldogs are a young group, but a talented one. Payton Petroff finished with 553 total yards this past season. He'll team with Bryce Martinez, who rushed for more than 700 yards, in the backfield. Ivan DeLeon will lead a line looking to create holes for them to run through. Roderick Roberson will lead the defense after finishing with 59 tackles in 2017.

7. Greenville Lions

  • Coach: Darren Duke
  • 2017 finish: 5-5
  • Returning starters: 7 offensive, 6 defensive

Players to watch

  • QB Caleb Jarvis, Sr., 6-1, 170
  • WR/DB Nick Mapps, Sr., 5-7, 165
  • DL Jeremiah Abrego, 6-2, 185
  • DB Tucker Patterson, Sr., 6-1, 175
  • OL Simon Rico, Sr., 6-0, 230

2018 outlook: Caleb Jarvis brings experience and put up more than 2,000 total yards a season ago. Nick Mapps will be his top target after recording more than 1,000 yards of his own. The defense will be led by Jeremiah Abrego on the line. Greenville will be a solid team, but there are plenty in this district. Making the playoffs will be no easy task.

8. Terrell Tigers

  • Coach: Mike Shields
  • 2017 finish: 3-7
  • Returning starters: 5 offensive, 4 defensive

Players to watch

  • QB Micah Skinner, Sr., 5-10, 185
  • LB Jaquavious Morris, Jr., 5-8, 160
  • LB Jaqwondis Burns, Jr., 6-2, 185
  • OL Malik Griffin, Jr., 6-2, 250
  • WR J.T. Richardson, Sr., 6-0, 170

2018 outlook: Terrell moves up from 4A and will likely have a tough time after returning only nine starters. Micah Skinner will move from backup to starting quarterback. He'll look to J.T. Richardson in the passing game. The linebacker group is solid with Jaquavious Morris and Jaqwondis Burns to lead the way. There is hope for the Tigers in the future, but don't expect much this season.

9. Forney Jackrabbits

  • Coach: Aaron Woods
  • 2017 finish: 2-8
  • Returning starters: 6 offensive, 2 defensive

Players to watch

  • WR Sean Stephens, Sr., 5-11, 165
  • WR Austin Ream, Sr., 6-0, 195
  • QB Campbell Anderson, Jr., 5-11, 150
  • TE/DL Will Morgan, Sr., 6-3, 235
  • OL A.J. Schultz, Jr., 6-3, 270

2018 outlook: Aaron Woods is entering his inaugural season as coach of the Jackrabbits. He'll inherit a couple of solid receivers in Sean Stephens and Austin Ream, who combined for more than 1,000 yards a season ago. Campbell Anderson takes over the quarterback spot. Will Morgan will look to hold down the defensive line with his 6-3 frame. Forney may not compete much this year, but it will be interesting to watch how the team progresses under Woods this season and in the ones to come.