No one quite knew what to expect from Jefferson coming into last season. After all, the Bulldogs were on the heels of a 2-8 campaign under first-year head coach Antwain Jimmerson.

Fast forward one year, and Jefferson's expectations couldn't be much higher. The Bulldogs will begin ranked No. 2 in our preseason Class 3A poll.

Jefferson. after dropping two of its first three games of 2016, captured eight consecutive wins, won the District 8-3A Division I championship, and reached the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

With 13 returning starters, including eight on offense, Jefferson will be one of East Texas' most explosive 3A units.

Quarterback Trey Hodge and receiver T.Q. Jackson are back after enjoying monster sophomore seasons. Hodge only passed for a little more than 1,200 yards, but more than 1,000 of that went to Jackson, who averaged almost 27 yards per catch.

Other veteran skill-position players include WR/DB Dee Mitchell, WR/DB Trace Smith, and running back Tyron Williams.

Jefferson's first three games are against Waskom, Paul Pewitt, and Elysian Fields, all of which are perennial postseason participants. The Bulldogs begin district play at home against New Boston on Oct. 13, but the big test comes three weeks later at White Oak.

Last year, Jefferson took the 8-3A crown from defending league champion White Oak with a 35-20 win. The Roughnecks have quite a few standouts back this season as well, including star quarterback Heath Hood, who missed last year's matchup because of an injury.

White Oak is ranked No. 3 in our preseason 3A poll.

Regardless of how that game turns out, Jefferson figures to be in good shape for a strong playoff run. Preseason Class 3A Poll

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