The 2013 season was a bittersweet one for the Athens Hornets. On one hand, the town witnessed history -- the program's first-ever 10-0 regular season. But the positive vibes could not carry over to the playoffs.

Despite being matched up against a four-loss, third-place finisher from the neighboring district, Athens' historic season was cut short in the opening round of the playoffs. Chapel Hill, which would go on to the 3A D-I quarterfinals, handed the Hornets a 52-26 defeat.

Fortunately for Athens, Chapel Hill and other powerhouse programs like Carthage, Kilgore and Henderson are in Region IIII -- on the opposite end of the bracket. And with 14 returning starters, Athens is hopeful it can not only take care of business in the new District 8-4A Division I, but also win a few games in the playoffs.

Athens FB Logan Fuller. (Christopher R. Vinn,

The Hornets must replace the leader of its offense, three-year starting quarterback Anthony Sanders, but they return what could be one of East Texas' top rushing duos this season.

Junior fullback Logan Fuller (5-8, 203) rushed for 1,727 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2013, while senior tailback Devin Hall finished with 1,234 yards and 14 touchdowns. Both will be key cogs in Athens' powerful Wing-T offensive attack.

But the player everyone is talking about heading into the 2014 season is junior athlete Travon Fuller (6-0, 155), who committed to Texas A&M a couple weeks back. Travon Fuller, a big-play receiver on offense and ball-hawking DB on defense, may have had his biggest impact on the Hornets' special teams a year ago.

Travon Fuller blocked a staggering 21 kicks -- four field goals and 17 PATs -- in only 11 games. He put up 413 yards of offense and five touchdowns on 30 touches, and recorded seven interceptions and 53 tackles on defense.

Athens will be big up front defensively with the return of D-linemen Tyler Trussell (6-2, 265), Chris Prox (6-2, 225) and Timothy Tanner (6-1, 200). The Hornets will need to be strong on the defensive line after the standout linebacking duo of Chris Jefferson and K.J. Cumby were lost to graduation.

But overall, Athens is loaded with experience, which should make the Hornets the favorites in 8-4A D-I. The rest of the district -- Kaufman, Van, Crandall, Wills Point and Mabank -- was a collective 22-33 in 2013.

2014 Athens Hornets Schedule

Aug. 29HendersonL 36-20
Sept. 5at DibollW 42-7
Sept. 12HallsvilleL 41-21
Sept. 19at RuskW 49-21
Sept. 26RobinsonW 23-20
Oct. 3OPEN
Oct. 10*at VanL 35-32
Oct. 17*at MabankW 70-7
Oct. 24*KaufmanW 44-23
Oct. 31*at CrandallW 62-22
Nov. 7*Wills PointW 52-28
Nov. 14vs. Pittsburg (at Mesquite)W 47-27
Nov. 21vs. Kennedale (at Forney)L 30-26 Preseason Class 4A Poll

Athens RB Devin Hall. (Christopher R. Vinn,