When you've got North Texas' quarterback of the future and a NCAA Division I FBS receiver, you're starting the season in a very decent place.

That's where Texas High will begin the 2016 campaign ahead of factoring in some experienced offensive lineman and a remaining set of offensive skill players many other local teams would trade for if they could.

The Tigers will begin the season regarded as the sixth-best Class 6A/5A team in ETSN.fm's coverage area. They're just ahead of No. 7 Nacogdoches, No. 8 Hallsville, No. 9 Lindale and No. 10 Whitehouse.

Texas High is the second District 16-5A team to be named in the poll reveal. Hallsville is nipping at its heels.

You'll notice no 6A teams have been revealed yet. If one ultimately arises later in the poll's unveiling, that would mean the Tigers and the rest of the named lot are even better than their present positions when only looking at the 5A side of things.

Defense is a question ahead of the season for Texas High. Only one starter -- senior tackle James Tarantino -- returns from last year's 5A Division I playoff team.

But Marquis Alexander, Jaylin Franklin and Leonard Parks are players head coach Barry Norton expects to be easy fits along the defensive line. The same can be said for Davon Williams at linebacker.

We've also come to expect Norton's teams to have athleticism at all skill positions, so the secondary shouldn't be a huge concern out of the gate.

Regardless, quarterback Cade Pearson and receiver Quan Hampton are the centerpieces of a deep passing game rotation rounded out at the top by big junior receiver Trevailance Hunt and senior speed man Eric Sutton.

Denvuntay Walker, a Pleasant Grove transfer, will likely get the nod to replace old running back J'Kardi Witcher off a 1,000-yard season.

Texas High has made the playoffs in each of the past 15 seasons, which makes it easy to bank on the Tigers playing past Week 11. Since 2009, however, it seems the team always gets handed the top regional contender for a state championship in the first round of the playoffs.

That could be the case once again this season. Highland Park, in the adjacent district, dropped down to 5A from 6A and is being touted as the Metroplex's greatest hope from 5A Region II at large.

Both Texas High and Highland Park are the largest schools in their districts, so both teams will automatically go to the Class 5A Division I bracket if they clinch playoff berths.

The only way the Tigers are getting out of that bi-district playoff matchup, other than a total letdown by them or Highland Park, is to feed another District 16-5A program to Highland Park by earning the first of just two Division I seeds.

Mount Pleasant automatically will go the Division I route as well, if it qualifies. The Oct. 14 showdown between the Tigers and Mount Pleasant is a huge game.

If Mount Pleasant does not qualify, Marshall will likely get in and go the Division I route as the district's third-biggest school. That Sept. 23 game is important as well.

As far as the regular season is concerned, Texas High has the pieces to be beyond competitive. It should be a fun fall full of big plays on both sides of the ball.

2016 Texas High Tigers Football Schedule

Aug. 26at Dallas Bishop LynchW 44-21
Sept. 2Arkansas HighW 37-7
Sept. 9Liberty-EylauW 48-39
Sept. 16KilgoreW 44-0
Sept. 23*at MarshallW 36-18
Sept. 30OPEN
Oct. 7*Sulphur SpringsW 23-10
Oct. 14*at Mount PleasantW 27-7
Oct. 21*GreenvilleW 45-19
Oct. 28*at HallsvilleW 34-8
Nov. 4*Pine TreeW 38-3
Nov. 11(BI-DISTRICT): vs. West MesquiteL 30-27

ETSN.fm Preseason Class 6A/5A Poll


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