Every once in a while the UIL throws Tatum out of its comfort zone. Following their 2005 Class 3A Division II state championship, the Eagles were dropped down a classification. Two years later, they were back in 3A.

And now, after four seasons of competing at the 2A level, Tatum finds itself playing up a class once again. The one common thread linking the realignment roller-coaster years together has been winning.

Tatum has won no matter how it was classified. And there's every reason to believe that will continue this season.

Tatum ATH Chaston Brooks. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Andy Evans, who is entering his 11th season at the helm, has led Tatum to two state championships and another state finals appearance. The Eagles have also compiled a record of 108-24 record under Evans, who's guided Tatum to seven double-digit win seasons.

Tatum has 12 starters back from last year's 11-1 area finalist, including the menacing linebacking duo of seniors Kyshaun Smith and Devod Boyd, who between them combined for 222 tackles (35 for loss) in 2013.

The offense will be led by junior quarterback J.D. Taylor, who performed well as a sophomore a season ago. Receivers Deyanta Roberson and Martin Williams are big targets downfield, which could make Tatum's air attack one of the area's best this fall.

Aside from Smith and Boyd, Tatum brings back plenty of firepower on defense. Senior defensive end Malik Allen will anchor a quick and physical D-line, while seniors Chaston Brooks and Jordan Nelson are expected to form one of East Texas' best defensive backfields.

Brooks is also a supreme talent in the special teams department after having returned six kicks for touchdowns last season.

Tatum's new district -- 6-4A Division II -- features a loaded Gladewater team coming off a 3A Division II state quarterfinals appearances, Atlanta, Center, Spring Hill and Pleasant Grove. A brutal non-district schedule, which features Newton, Gilmer, Liberty-Eylau, Chapel Hill and Hardin-Jefferson, should prepare Tatum well for life in the new district.

2014 Tatum Eagles Schedule

Aug. 29NewtonW 39-7
Sept. 5OPEN
Sept. 12GilmerL 41-35
Sept. 19at Liberty-EylauW 41-14
Sept. 26at Chapel HillL 42-39
Oct. 3Hardin-JeffersonL 21-14
Oct. 10*at GladewaterL 52-8
Oct. 17*CenterW 46-6
Oct. 24*at Spring HillW 45-28
Oct. 31*at AtlantaL 34-28
Nov. 7*Pleasant GroveW 31-7
Nov. 15vs. Bullard (at Longview)W 49-15
Nov. 22vs. Coldspring-Oakhurst (at Lufkin)W 35-12
Nov. 28vs. Atlanta (at Longview)L 55-21

ETSN.fm Preseason Class 4A Poll