So much talk surrounding East Texas Class 3A football entering the 2013 season involves perennial powers Carthage, Gilmer, and Kilgore.

Well, one look at what the Jasper Bulldogs bring back and it's easy to see why they deserve some talk, too.

Jasper returns six starters on each side of the ball from a team that finished 9-3 with a 3A Division II Region III second-round playoff appearance. The nine-win campaign was Jasper's first since the Bulldogs went 12-4 and lost in the 3A D-II state title game in 2004.

Among the six returning offensive starers are Texas-bound center Terrell Cuney and his cousin, tailback Terrance "Tiki" Cuney, who ran for almost 1,300 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior. Quarterback Steve Walker is also back after throwing for 1,500 yards, and he'll have big, athletic targets in Jamarcus Reed and Chris Spikes.

Defensively, another Cuney -- DeAnthony, Terrance's brother -- leads the charge. DeAnthony Cuney had 145 tackles as a junior and brings 365 for his career into his senior campaign.

The linebacker unit is the strength of Jasper's 3-4 scheme. Shawn Jones, Deroddrick Hadnot, Ike Hawthorne, and Markeith Collins are also back from that group, which has a high bar to meet considering last year's Bulldog defense held opponents to 18.3 points per game.

Jasper and Carthage enter the season as the top two teams in District 20-3A. Even if Jasper doesn't knock off Associated Press preseason No. 2 Carthage, it has a good chance at a lengthy playoff run the 3A Division I Region III bracket.

Who knows? There's even the chance for a Bulldogs vs. Bulldogs Region III championship come the fourth round. 2013 Preseason East Texas Class 3A Poll