You may have noticed Tyler Grace Community has already been referenced quite a few times in the buildup toward the 2016 season.

The Cougars will begin the season ranked third in the ETSN.fm Class 2A/Private Schools Poll. We're also prepared to admit head coach Mike Maddox's squad is the highest-ranked of the four East Texas private schools participating in TAPPS football.

Grace ranks just ahead of TAPPS Division II, District II rivals Bullard Brook Hill and Tyler Bishop Gorman in the fourth and fifth spots, respectively. It also is viewed just slightly more favorably than No. 6 San Augustine, No. 7 Shelbyville, No. 8 Groveton, No. 9 Joaquin and No. 10 Big Sandy from the Class 2A level of University Interscholastic League competition.

But the good news for the aforementioned 2A schools is that none of them are viewed worse than the seventh-best local school within the classification.

The poll will be rounded out by two more 2A schools in the second-ranked and first-ranked spots. The selections will be revealed over the next two days.

Grace was not picked to be overly competitive last season, perhaps just sneaking into the playoffs after suffering massive losses from a solid 2014 team. It showed us by dominating its district other than Dallas Christian, a two-point loss.

Dallas Christian, for a second straight year, went on to make a state championship game appearance.

There are questions about this Cougars team, preventing them from being second or first overall in the poll.

Those doubts sit on the defensive side of the ball. Only three starters are returning, but senior linebacker Josh Spitzer is certainly a player newcomers can rally around.

What we do know is the offense has potential to be District II's best. Nine starters are back from a unit that averaged 37.2 points in its seven league games.

Grace's offense runs through now-senior quarterback Christopher Wilhelmi. He is back off a junior campaign where he put up 3,619 yards of offense and 30 total touchdowns.

When a quarterback can do those things, it's a testament to the players around him. The Cougars' offensive line is almost completely intact and the key backs and receivers also have held over.

Senior receiver Parker Ary is the second-most valuable skill player on offense. He caught 40 passes for 510 yards. That's an average of 12.75 yards per catch.

If Grace's offense performs well once again, the team will be in contention for the District II title.

If the overhauled defense comes along, like the offense did last season, the sky is the limit.

2016 Tyler Grace Community Football Schedule

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ETSN.fm Preseason Class 2A/Private Schools Poll