It's safe to say the first year of head coach Craig Barker's stint with Tatum was a success.

The Eagles turned in a final record of 7-4 after a winless season in 2015, and we're expecting even better things from Barker's bunch this year. The District 8-4A Division II title isn't out of the question.

Tatum will begin the season ranked ninth in our Class 4A poll.

With exception to the loss of LeMarcus Harmon, all of the key contributors that make the Eagles' signature running game tick are back in place. Senior back Cedric White is coming off a 1,300-yard season, quarterback OB Jones is back for a second season under center and Texas State offensive lineman commitment Drake Centers returns at tackle.

Tatum's other two returners on offense are also offensive linemen.

Five starters return to a defense that allowed 23.5 points per game and progressively improved through the course of the regular season.

Tatum is fortunate to belong a five-team district. Only one team out of the league won't qualify for the postseason, and one district win was enough for the fourth-place team a year ago.

The Eagles' non-district schedule is no joke leading up to the important games.

Arp leads off the slate, Tatum travels to Henderson the next week and then draws Chapel Hill, Wills Point, Pittsburg and Atlanta in succession. Arp, Henderson and Wills Point played past Thanksgiving last year. Pittsburg or Atlanta could circle back to face the Eagles once again in the bi-district round of the playoffs.

ETSN.fm Class 4A Preseason Poll