Can you name the lone East Texas school that has sent a defensive back to The Opening in Oregon each of the past three summers?

Of course you can. You clicked on a write up about Nacogdoches.

It wasn't always this way. Not that the Dragons never had the athletes needed to compete at a high level, but winning consistently certainly elevated the visibility of guys like Jaylon Lane, Brandon Jones and now Josh Thompson.

We think Nacogdoches will win some more. The Dragons will begin the year ranked seventh in's Class 6A/5A poll ahead of No. 8 Hallsville, No. 9 Lindale and No. 10 Whitehouse.

Lindale and Whitehouse are members of District 17-5A. Just like Nacogdoches.

You'll notice that no teams from the Class 6A level have been revealed to this point in the poll. If any are revealed deeper into the unveiling, it would mean the aforementioned 5A schools are actually viewed even more favorably within their classification.

It all starts with Thompson for the Dragons.

Thompson was hardly a blip on the region's radar last season and has emerged as the region's most sought after recruit. The cornerback has enjoyed a tremendous offseason with all 24 of his NCAA Division I FBS offers arriving after the 2015 campaign ended.

It's not all hype. Thompson, who recently committed to Texas, dominated at the + APEC Football Recruiting Combine and walked away with the Defensive Most Valuable Player award.

We're expecting Thompson to intimidate opponents and take away a good swath of field.

And, who knows, maybe there's a fourth straight The Opening caliber defensive back roaming around in the secondary?

Nacogdoches brings back 16 starting players from its 2015 team, which tied for fourth place in the final district standings along with Lindale and Corsicana but missed the postseason because Lindale had the best head-to-head point differential among the three teams involved.

Noah Hildebrand, now an Arkansas-Monticello commitment, returning to his quarterback spot is a big boost. This season will be his second as a starter at Nacogdoches and his third year as a starting quarterback in total, dating back to a sophomore season spent leading Bossier City (La.) Airline.

Running back Phillip Jones also returns. He ran for 1,274 yards last season in just 10 games.

Receiver Jaylon Maxie owns an offer from nearby Stephen F. Austin.

The Dragons have the headliners and solid depth behind those guys. They're also going to benefit from being in a six-team league without John Tyler and Lufkin.

It should be a pretty decent year.

2016 Nacogdoches Dragons Football Schedule

Aug. 26KilgoreW 48-21
Sept. 2LufkinL 42-28
Sept. 9at Tyler LeeW 24-17
Sept. 16at HallsvilleW 35-14
Sept. 23GilmerL 56-52
Sept. 30OPEN
Oct. 7*at LindaleW 24-10
Oct. 14*at CorsicanaL 24-20 (OT)
Oct. 21*WhitehouseL 27-17
Oct. 28*at EnnisL 27-14
Nov. 4*JacksonvilleL 46-45 Preseason Class 6A/5A Poll



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