The Class 4A Preseason Poll swings south to pick up Jasper.

The Bulldogs make their debut as the No. 7 team in the countdown following a 9-4 record last season and a trip to the regional semifinals. With 13 returning starters and some competitive district clutter out the way, this is a team with room to run.

Jasper, a perennial player in the southern East Texas sphere at its worst and a state championship contender at its best, is favored to win a difficult District 10-4A Division II that also features Huffman Hargrave, Little Cypress-Mauriceville, Silsbee and Cleveland as playoff contenders in the seven-team district.

Everything is pointing up in 2015. On top of retaining 13 starters, the team brings back 28 of 35 total letter winners.

Quentin Williams returns to the quarterback spot after running for 1,678 yards and passing for another 1,201 yards for a combined 35 touchdowns. Of course, the job is easier with senior tight end and Division I college recruit Cody Mitchell blocking and helping out in the passing game.

Mitchell begins his senior campaign with hard offers from Illinois, Louisiana Tech, Missouri, Texas State and Louisiana-Lafayette.

The Bulldogs' offensive line also is a strength with center Zach Quick (6-2, 290) back in the fold for a third year, and Jasper is never short on athleticism to apply to the running back and receiver spots.

But defense might be an even bigger strength. Seven players are back from a unit that allowed 21.4 points per game while its supporting offense put up about 13 points more in each contest.

Defensive lineman John McMillon headlines the defenders after recording 12 sacks as part of 85 total tackles -- very high numbers for the position. Don't get too high on him though. He's a Texas Tech baseball commitment and a Major League Baseball draft prospect.

An extended playoff run could be in the cards for the Bulldogs. No. 9 Henderson was the team that derailed the season last year, and it has some graduation issues to sort through.

A pair of great non-district games against Hardin-Jefferson and West Orange-Stark should have Jasper ready to roll once district play begins on Oct. 2.

2015 Jasper Bulldogs Football Schedule

Aug. 28at Hardin-JeffersonW 35-7
Sept. 4VidorL 42-21
Sept. 11at West Orange-StarkL 53-0
Sept. 18CenterL 26-23
Sept. 25*SplendoraW 42-21
Oct. 2*at ClevelandW 31-7
Oct. 9*Bridge CityW 48-47
Oct. 16OPEN
Oct. 23*at Little Cypress-MauricevilleW 34-14
Oct. 30*Huffman HargraveW 45-28
Nov. 6*at SilsbeeL 59-48
Nov. 14(BI-DISTRICT): vs. BrownsboroW 57-14
Nov. 20(AREA): vs. NavasotaL 35-21 Class 4A Preseason Poll