The John Tyler Lions are back on top of the mountain as one of East Texas' elite programs, and their recent track record speaks to that. JT has earned the top spot on the preseason Class 6A/5A poll for the second consecutive year.

Since 2009, the Lions have compiled an overall record of 67-17 (.798), and have reached at least the state-quarterfinal round of the playoffs in five of the previous six seasons. Their season has ended in the state semifinals in three of the last four years.

Can JT duplicate its overwhelming success in 2015?

The Lions lost several key members of last season's 12-3 team, including quarterback Geovari McCollister, running back Jeremy Wilson, receivers Nick Cain and Rodney Bendy, defensive lineman Jassavia Reese, linebacker Jaylon Reese, and defensive backs Isaac Warren, Deandre Williams, and Jordan Owens.

Those were all great players, but there is plenty more where that came from.

Offensively, JT will be led by junior quarterback Bryson Smith, who has drawn comparisons to ex-Lions QB and current Houston signal-caller Greg Ward. The backfield will be headlined by 2018 prospect Tre Allison, while the receiving corps in anchored by Texas 2017 commit Damion Miller and senior Duntayviun Gross.

Houston commit Braylon Jones and fellow senior Pierre Leonard man what could be another dominant defensive line, Shaundrick Williams is an emerging star at linebacker, while safety Bryston Gipson returns after serving as one of JT's top playmakers on both defense and special teams in 2014.

Sure, JT must fill some voids, but the Lions' program is where it is today because of its ability to replenish the talent pool year after year.

The Lions' non-district schedule once again includes tough tests vs. Plano and Longview, before a showdown with crosstown rival Tyler Lee, which handed JT an upset defeat a season ago.

It will all lead into a brutal schedule in District 16-5A, a league that will likely come down to John Tyler's home clash vs. Ennis in October.

2015 John Tyler Lions Football Schedule

Aug. 28at PlanoL 35-17
Sept. 5LongviewL 31-14
Sept. 11vs. Tyler LeeL 69-38
Sept. 18OPEN
Sept. 25*WhitehouseW 65-33
Oct. 2*at LindaleW 30-20
Oct. 9*at LufkinW 41-38
Oct. 16*EnnisW 40-29
Oct. 23*at CorsicanaW 36-14
Oct. 30*JacksonvilleW 57-21
Nov. 6*at NacogdochesW 28-16
Nov. 14(BI-DISTRICT): vs. Texas HighW 48-21
Nov. 21(AREA): vs. Mansfield Lake RidgeL 77-51 Preseason Class 6A/5A Poll