Tyler Grace Community's football program has been a model of consistency in recent years.

Six straight winning seasons, and even more impressive runs during that stretch.

With tradition on their side, the Cougars will begin the year ranked No. 4 in the ETSN.fm Class 2A/Private Schools Poll  They're the first East Texas private school to be included in the poll.

Grace will have to prove it belongs during the season, however.

Head coach Mike Maddox enjoyed a gritty offense last season that got it done when it mattered most. The challenge this month will be replacing a large group of seniors on that side of the ball.

Only two offensive starters from 2014 will be part of the current team.

Junior quarterback Christopher Wilhelmi headlines the transition and should ease the pain of losing Chandler Nutt. He's already known around the area as a hard worker, going as far as winning the friendship of former Texas Tech and Green Bay Packers quarterback Graham Harrell in the process during Harrell's stay in Tyler.

The best way to win games, especially early in the season, will be holding down the competition. The Cougars should be able to do that.

Maddox will have six returning starters to work with. Josh Spitzer, Andrew Cotten and Austin Warren give the team a clear strength along the front seven after winning letters at their positions last season.

Grace's TAPPS Division II, District II appears to be a five-team race from the outset with up to seven capable of pushing for the league's four playoff spots this season.

Dallas Christian won the district last year and advanced to the state championship game. Tyler Bishop Gorman reached the semifinals. Bullard Brook Hill got two rounds deep. But the biggest problem for Grace is Tyler All Saints seemed to get the ball rolling last season with competitive games across the board and returns virtually everyone.

Non-district games against Canton, New Diana and Harleton will help the Cougars prepare before hopping into the District II gauntlet on Sept. 25.

2015 Tyler Grace Community Cougars Football Schedule

[table id=1192 /]

ETSN.fm Preseason Class 2A/Private Schools Poll