Mineola had the best story to start the 2015 season.

The Yellowjackets came out of nowhere to reach the 2014 Class 3A Division I state championship game and were bringing back almost every piece of that team. Every piece with exception to middle linebacker Juan Vargas, defensive tackle Trevor Keener and defensive end Casey Gilbreath.

Those three guys combined for a staggering 524 tackles through the surprise run and were gone.

Mineola's remastering of the defensive front wasn't as cut-and-dry as moving sophomore linebacker Michael Drennon from outside linebacker to anchor the unit at Mike linebacker. It didn't hurt though as the squad worked all the way back to the state semifinals with better defensive numbers before falling to the eventual state champion, Brock.

Drennon flourished for 135 tackles -- including 12 tackles for loss and three sacks -- to give the Yellowjackets a little more sting. He is the 2015 ETSN.fm East Texas Football Super Team's Defensive Newcomer of the Year.

"Replacing Juan, I couldn't really fill his spot," Drennon said. "He was a really good player. But, just doing what we did this year, I learned a lot. I got better throughout the year. It was a new position, but I loved adapting to it. The position is really fun."

Mineola has benefitted from player continuity since reaching the state title game in 2014. The 2016 squad's defense will still feature a lot of the players that reached the championship, including the entire secondary.

The major losses from the 2015 team are twin offensive tackles Austin Anderson and Riley Anderson. Both will sign with Texas A&M on Wednesday.

Drennon offers some promise beyond next season. The team finally will have to make major overhauls at that point.

In the meantime, there is a lot of optimism about what can be done this fall.

"Everyone is coming back on defense," Drennon said. "D-line, the secondary, the backers. The coaches and I have expectations for the defense. We're planning on being way better than we were. Not making the mental mistakes that we made this year. Just improving overall on what we did last year. Hopefully, it will be good enough."