Less than a year after reaching the Class 3A Division I state semifinals, the Kilgore Bulldogs are poised for another deep postseason run.

Kilgore has long been known for a strong running game and a tenacious defense. The 2013 season should be no different.

Kilgore OL Clay Wiley. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

While the Bulldogs must replace three-year starting middle linebacker A.J. Davis, who signed with Sam Houston State, and a couple of other defensive starters from last year's 11-2 squad, there is plenty of talent returning for defense-minded head coach Mike Wood.

Linemen D.Q. Scott and LaDarrin Anthony combined for 20 sacks last year and spearhead what should be one of 3A's best defensive fronts. The secondary will again be strong with Benny Colbert, Joseph Shepherd, Aaron Foy, and Jake Brantley, who had more than 100 tackles as an outside linebacker last fall before moving to safety in the offseason.

Kilgore RB/DB JuJu Brown. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Offensively, burly lineman Clay Wiley is back for his senior season to block for multiple Bulldog tailbacks, including Kevrin Justice and JuJu Brown, who combined for 1,322 rushing yards last season. Colbert gets the first crack at replacing Cooper Coldiron at quarterback and should give the 'Dogs a serious dual-threat option, while Foy returns after leading the team in receiving as a junior.

The Associated Press and TheOldCoach.com placed Kilgore sixth in their 3A polls, while Dave Campbell's Texas Football magazine put the 'Dogs fifth in the preseason. Kilgore should contend with Gilmer for the District 16-3A title and be a serious threat to repeat as 3A Division I Region II champion. The fourth playoff team added to each 3A district may make the Bulldogs' path a bit tougher, but Kilgore could see defending state champion Stephenville in the state semifinals, where the Bulldogs' 2012 season ended in a 42-32 loss to the Yellow Jackets.

ETSN.fm 2013 Preseason East Texas Class 3A Poll