Back to District 11-2A Division I for the third time in four days.

Alto is No. 2 in our preseason Class 2A/Private schools poll. The Yellowjackets rank marginally ahead of district foes Carlisle and San Augustine, which are ranked fourth and fifth, respectively.

The Yellowjackets are as heavy in returning experience as any other league team. Their 16 experienced starters tie for the district's best along with Cushing, San Augustine, and Shelbyville.

Fred Thacker, a 6-foot-3 and 240-pounder, is back to guide the team at quarterback after putting up more than 2,000 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns in 2016. He led East Texas in sheer rushing yardage through the 2016 regular season and also threw for more than 700 yards.

Eight starters in total are back on offense. That means the offensive line is pretty much intact and ready to help Thacker, a junior, to more yardage.

Thacker should help the Yellowjackets steadily gain field position while taking precious minutes off the clock for opposing teams.

Alto's swarming defense also remains largely in place. Eight starters are back from a unit that accumulated a staggering 131 tackles for loss in 11 games played.

Leaders of the defense include linebacker Jaqualon Finley and lineman Ra'Dedrick Woodson. Finley racked up a team-best 86 tackles and added 10 tackles for loss, whereas Woodson recorded 44 tackles with 18 going for lost yardage.

Obviously, Carlisle and San Augustine will present challenges for Alto within the district. The same can be said for Joaquin, which tied with Carlisle for the district title a season ago.

Alto has the best non-district schedule of all those teams to prepare for the competition.

The season begins at home against Winona, which advanced to the regional championship round of the Class 3A Division II postseason. Up next is Big Sandy, which is ranked third within the 2A/Private Schools Poll.

DeMarvion Overshown, a consensus top 100 player nationally, will face the Yellowjackets alongside his Arp squad in Week 3. Arp also belongs to Class 3A Division II and made the state semifinals last season.

Non-district play wraps up with a real stretch game against Rusk. The Eagles participate in Class 4A Division II.

If Alto can take some of those games, watch out. Preseason Class 2A/Private Schools Poll

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