Kilgore came within 48 minutes of winning its second state championship. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, fellow East Texas powerhouse Carthage stood in their way.

Turning the page to this season, Kilgore has the chance to right two wrongs: exact revenge on defending state champion Carthage in District 9-4A Division I play, and then get back to AT&T Stadium in Arlington for the state title game and finish the job this time.

Kilgore LB Kris Haynes. (Christopher R. Vinn,

Several key pieces from 2013's state finalist team are gone, including quarterback Benny Colbert, 1,000-yard rusher Davieonta "JuJu" Brown, star receiver and defensive back Aaron Foy, offensive lineman Clay Wiley, the dominant D-line duo of Ladarrin Anthony and D.Q. Scott, leading tackler Jake Brantley and the entire defensive backfield.

But no matter what players leave from year to year, Kilgore wins. Since 1995, the Bulldogs have only missed the playoffs twice and compiled an overall record of 170-69-1.

Despite losing several key contributors from a season ago, Kilgore has plenty of firepower coming back.

Senior running back Kevrin Justice, a Houston commit, rushed for nearly 2,000 yards and 36 touchdowns in 2013. Much of the offense will be built around him, but receiver Nick Orange has the potential to pick up the slack in Foy's absence. Xaviar Gaona will get a shot to direct the offense at quarterback, while senior Blake Guthrie is a holdover from last season's dominant offensive line.

Without Anthony and Scott, Kilgore's defensive front will take on a different look. Expect big things from senior ends Jordan Thompson and Jarod Wood and senior tackle Jacobie Wafer. Linebacker Kris Haynes is a tackling machine, and should provide the senior leadership the new-look Kilgore 'D' will need in 2014.

The district title will go through the defending champion Carthage Bulldogs, but non-district games against Nacogdoches, Texas High and Gladewater should adequately prepare Kilgore for its run through another difficult district schedule.

2014 Kilgore Bulldogs Schedule

Aug. 29at NacogdochesL 27-25
Sept. 6vs. Corpus Christi Flour Bluff (at Galena Park)L 51-50
Sept. 12Pine TreeW 40-7
Sept. 19at Texas HighL 19-13 (3OT)
Sept. 26GladewaterL 25-21
Oct. 3OPEN
Oct. 10*PalestineW 41-6
Oct. 17*at CarthageL 21-7
Oct. 24*Chapel HillL 38-21
Oct. 31*at BrownsboroW 27-7
Nov. 7*HendersonW 24-18
Nov. 13vs. Jasper (at Lufkin)L 34-6 Preseason Class 4A Poll