There was a time not long ago that Glenn Thornton looked like a kid playing quarterback in the backyard. He shuffled around, wound up and used every muscle fiber in his arm to get ball where it needed to be.

Today, Thornton might be East Texas' best kept secret. Where Thornton goes as a senior, his Groveton team will largely follow.

The Indians will begin the season ranked eighth in ETSN.fm's Class 2A/Private Schools poll ahead of Big Sandy in the 10th spot and Joaquin in the ninth.

All four East Texas private schools in TAPPS are still off the board. Some may make it deeper in the poll, which would mean Groveton is better than the eighth-best 2A school in the region.

You'll find out down the road.

Anyway, Thornton progressed magnificently as a junior. He led all of Texas in passing last season by completing 259 of 409 passes for 4,191 yards and 36 touchdown passes to 15 interceptions. The Indians' coaching staff, which calls passing plays about 90 percent of the time, concluded their signal caller put up the second most yards in the entire nation.

Thornton effectively kicked off his senior year with an outstanding performance at the ETSN.fm + APEC Football Recruiting Combine. We learned that, not only can Groveton's star throw the ball well, he is fast and agile.

The quarterback ran a laser-timed 40-yard dash in 4.60 seconds and scored 4.16 seconds on his laser-timed pro agility test.

Thornton also showed he can throw the ball 47 yards from his knees and that he is significantly heavier than what he played at last season. He was certified at 6-foot-1 and 169 pounds and has allegedly has put on about six more pounds with a goal to weigh 180 pounds at the start of the season.

But it's not just Thornton. His top two receivers, Dawson Chumley and Saul Chavez, had ridiculous seasons last year and are back.

Chumley finished the 2015 season second only behind Carthage receiver Jakelric Jackson's 1,483 yards with 1,451 yards.

Jackson played 15 games in a run to the Class 4A Division I state semifinals. Chumley played in eight games because he started the season injured.

Chavez put up 1,242 receiving yards in 11 games.

Why is this team not considered a state championship contender? Well, it's a lot like Texas Tech of the early 2000s under Mike Leach.

Groveton needs to improve dramatically on the defensive side to contend for the Class 2A Division I title. The unit averaged 40.1 points against toward a 3-7 regular season record, which was still good enough for a first round playoff date with Alto and a huge postseason defeat.

Six starters return on the Indians' defense to nine offensive returners.

But if the defense comes along, and if Thornton can reduce his interceptions by one-third, this team really could be a championship contender.

And at least one critical player has put a lot of work into the offseason.

 2016 Groveton Indians Schedule

[table id=1368 /]

ETSN.fm Preseason Class 2A/Private Schools Poll