The District 6-4A Division II title could be in play when Gladewater and Tatum meet at the Bears' Jack V. Murphy Stadium on Oct. 12 for the league opener.

This is the No. 6 game in ETSN.fm's countdown of the top 25 games featuring East Texas teams in 2014.

Both teams return a good chunk of experience and both will be battle tested entering the big meeting.

Tatum linebacker Kyshaun Smith led the Eagles with 120 tackles last season. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Gladewater has one of the toughest non-district schedules in the state. The slate features Daingerfield, Pittsburg, Lafayette (La.) St. Thomas Moore plus Carthage and Kilgore in consecutive weeks. The Bears will enjoy an open week prior to playing Tatum.

The Eagles begin their season with back-to-back games against Newton and Gilmer. They'll also have a game against Chapel Hill under their belt before visiting Gladewater.

Tatum returns 12 players from an 11-1 team last season but has moved up to the new 4A level from the old 2A classification. That isn't expected to slow down head coach Andy Evans' group much.

The linebacking corps would stand out at any level of competition with Devon Boyd and Kyshaun Smith. Smith gave the Eagles' secondary a bit of a break with a team-high 120 tackles last season.

There's a lot to like about Tatum offensively as well.

Quarterback J.D. Taylor threw for 1,400 yards and rushed for another 700 yards in 2013. Deyante Robertson caught for more than 700 yards.

Chaston Brooks can do it all offensively. He also returned five punts for touchdowns last season.

Gladewater has a great defensive line with Daylon Mack and Quanterius Turner in the lineup. They're two of 18 returning starters from the Bears' 2013 Class 3A Division II regional championship game appearance.

Mack, a 6-2, 315-pound Texas A&M commitment, is widely considered one of the best high school defensive linemen in the nation. He helps Gladewater keep it in front of the second and third levels. That being said, safety Daylon Gordon is a huge asset at safety with 135 tackles last season.

Bears running backs James Reese and and Justice Centers combined for more than 2,100 rushing yards and appear primed for even bigger numbers behind an experienced offensive line.

Neither team has a glaring weakness, and both squads boast position groups with more than their fair share of talent. More than that, Gladewater and Tatum will already have big game experience when they meet on the field.

There are no excuses when the lights come on in October.

 

ETSN.fm's Top 25 Games of 2014