Chapel Hill fell on hard times in 2012 in its attempt to defend its Class 3A Division I state championship. After graduation levied a heavy toll, the Bulldogs slipped to 3-7 -- their worst season since 2005.

But as the new year approaches, the level of excitement is on its way back up.

Chapel Hill welcomes back 14 starters -- seven on each side of the ball -- in 2013, and most of them played significant roles a season ago. Running back/defensive back Joseph Clark (5-9, 180), a Texas Tech commit, will be starting for the third year in a row and represents one of the few players on the roster that played for state in 2011. Another three-year starter returns in linebacker Wesley Thompson (6-0, 185), who will be one of the most athletic at his position this fall.

Andrew Black returns at quarterback after posting more than 1,300 total yards as a junior. One player to keep an eye will be fullback Reggie King (5-10, 175), who turned heads last season as a freshman.

On the defensive side, lineman Keith Minor and Kevone Kennedy give the Bulldogs both size and speed up front. The back end of the defense is expected to be strong as well with the return of safety D.D. Mumphrey (5-11, 185) and Sammy Guzman.

Chapel Hill features one of the toughest schedules in the area, so don't be surprised if the Bulldogs go 5-5 or 6-4 during the regular season and are a tough out in the playoffs.

ETSN.fm 2013 Preseason East Texas Class 3A Poll