Prior to last season, big things were expected of the Hughes Springs Mustangs after a strong run to the third round of the playoffs in 2011. They didn't disappoint.

From the get-go, Hughes Springs was one of the most dominant teams in the region regardless of classification. During its undefeated regular season, Hughes Springs outscored its opponents by an average score of 47-9 and pitched four consecutive shutouts to begin district.

And the Mustangs did it with physical play on both sides of the ball. Their Slot-T offense punished the front line of opposing defenses, controlled the clock and put up remarkable rushing production.

Despite bringing just eight starters back from 2012's 12-1 Class 2A Division II Region III finalist, expect more of the same from Hughes Springs this fall. The Mustangs will welcome back 2,000-yard rusher Michael Martinez, 300-pound offensive/defensive lineman Kyre Lewis and ball-hawking safety Chad McKinney (7 INTs).

Hughes Springs' three-game non-district schedule may provide challenges, but it seems unlikely the competition in District 9-2A Division II will close the wide gap we saw in 2012. 2013 Preseason Class 2A Poll