John Tyler was the biggest East Texas success story in Class 6A in 2016, and with 16 of 22 starters returning, the Lions figure to be a force once again this season.

The Lions begin the year ranked No. 1 in ETSN.fm's Class 6A/5A poll.

Nine offensive and seven defensive starters come back to John Tyler, which captured a share of the District 11-6A championship in 2016, finishing 11-2 with a berth in the Division II regional semifinals.

Now, the two starters on offense lost to gradation were big ones -- quarterback and Houston signee Bryson Smith, and receiver Damion Miller, who signed with Texas but is now enrolled at Navarro College.

Devlen Woods will take over the starting quarterback job after spending his sophomore season at receiver.

Speaking of receivers, the slack Miller leaves will be passed along to senior Michael Givens-Washington (52 catches, 785 yards, eight touchdowns) and Ke'Andre Street (31-555, four TD's) among others.

Cameron Grant is back at running back after totaling 873 yards and 12 scores on the ground as a sophomore. He'll be running behind an experienced offensive line anchored by junior Chance Billington.

The John Tyler defense doesn't have too many holes to fill, especially up front.

Defensive end and Houston pledge DeKalen Goodson is one of the best pass rushers in all of East Texas, while senior linebacker and SMU commit Tre Allison has been a monster in the middle of the Lions' defense for three years.

Tyus Grayson will pick up the slack in a secondary that was hurt by graduation.

John Tyler will have likely challenges from rival Longview and Rockwall, which it split against last year, in 11-6A play. The Lions will prepare for the league slate with non-district games against Plano West, Ennis, and Lufkin.

ETSN.fm Preseason Class 6A/5A Poll