Big Sandy endured a fairly humble 2016 season, but its fight for an 8-4 finish should serve the team well as it moves on to what could be a much bigger year.

We're picking the Wildcats as the third-ranked team in our first Class 2A/Private Schools poll. The team brings back 17 of 22 possible starters from its area round appearance in the Class 2A Division I state playoffs.

Nine offensive starters are back, and that means Big Sandy is well-situated along the offensive line.

That's a great sign because the Wildcats love to run the ball. Khameron Pippins and Seth Burk both ran for more than 1,600 yards through a 12-game season and both players are back in the fold.

Brayden Jewell, a senior, and Caden Minter, a sophomore, will begin fall camp competing for the starting quarterback role. The loser of the battle can fall back to safety and might even see time as a receiver.

Eight defensive starters return from a unit that helped the overall team to a plus-261 point differential.

District foe Union Grove is the sixth-ranked team in the poll and Kerens brings back a decent amount of experience whereas Cayuga brings back seven starters from its 7-5 team.

Cross Roads and Hawkins have some proving to do. Neither team won a district game last season with exception to Hawkins' win against Cross Roads.

Big Sandy has tough non-district games lined up against Alto and a Harleton squad from Class 3A Division II to get ready for the top tier of its district.

ETSN.fm Preseason Class 2A/Private Schools Poll