White Oak DT D'Quantis Sutton. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Everyone knew entering the 2013 football season that District 9-2A Division I should be one of East Texas' deepest and most hotly-contested league races.

Through the non-district schedule, nothing suggests anything to the contrary.

Tatum, ranked No. 5 in the latest Associated Press Class 2A poll, and White Oak bring identical 5-0 records to Friday night's district-opening showdown at Eagle Stadium. Tatum (2.6 ppg) and White Oak (5.4 ppg) boast the No. 1 and No. 2 scoring defenses, respectively, in East Texas.

Friday's game will have major implications on the 9-2A D-I championship race.

Troup OL/DL Tristen Walsworth. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

But don't overlook Troup, which has won four consecutive games by an average of 24.3 points after dropping its opener to Class 3A Quinlan Ford. After all, Troup beat Tatum a year ago to create a three-way tie atop the district at 4-1.

Troup joins Tatum and White Oak as the teams that appear to be close to locks for three of the district's four playoff berths. That leaves Harmony, Jefferson, and Sabine to fight for the final playoff spot.

Harmony enters league competition with a 4-1 record, the Eagles' lone loss coming at Winnsboro in the season opener. Since, Harmony has won four games by an average of 32.3 points, although those victories came against teams with a 4-18 combined record. Two of them -- Como-Pickton and Ore City -- are winless.

Harmony DB Tim McCoy. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Jefferson (3-2) owns a pair of one-point losses to fellow 2A schools New Diana and Paul Pewitt. The Bulldogs play three games away from home during the district schedule: at Sabine (Oct. 18), vs. Harmony in Longview (Oct. 26), and at White Oak (Nov. 8). The good news for Jefferson is that the 'Dogs host Tatum and Troup, quality opponents who would be especially tough to beat on the road.

The Oct. 26 game at Lobo Stadium featuring Harmony and Jefferson could very well be for a playoff spot, but don't overlook this week's Troup at Jefferson opener. It could have a big impact on the playoff race, as well as Harmony's Nov. 1 home game vs. Troup.

Sabine (1-4) has slumped since a 46-0 season-opening rout of Ore City, losing four consecutive games to a 3A school, a 2A school, and two 1A schools. The Cardinals' only shot at earning a surprise postseason berth is if they find a way to beat Harmony and Jefferson in back-to-back home games to start 9-2A D-I play with a 2-0 record.

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* -- denotes playoff berth

Friday's District 9-2A Division I Openers

  • White Oak at Tatum
  • Troup at Jefferson
  • Harmony at Sabine
Sabine LB Sam Smith. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)