Hallsville quietly put together an impressive season last year behind Longview, Marshall and Texas High. It was not your average fourth-place district finisher behind the three co-district champions.

From there, the Bobcats shocked Ennis in the first round of the playoffs and then played tight with Lancaster in the second round of the postseason. Lancaster, with its bevy of NCAA Division I athletes on a yearly basis, went on to the Class 5A Division II, Region II championship game.

Is there reason to believe head coach David Plunk's 2016 squad is closer than farther away from a big playoff run of its own? Absolutely.

Hallsville will begin the season ranked eighth in ETSN.fm's Class 6A/5A poll. It is the first District 16-5A team named and checks in just ahead of No. 9 Lindale and No. 10 Whitehouse.

You'll notice no Class 6A teams from the area have been referenced just yet. But it should be obvious the aforementioned 5A schools will ultimately be regarded higher than 10th to eighth-best within the region in their own classification.

Big offensive linemen is becoming the Bobcats' signature, and there's no shortage of those guys on this year's team. That softens the blow of losing eight offensive starters from the area round team a year ago.

If you possess imposing linemen, you're capable of doing anything at the skill positions as long as you find the right fits.

Offensive lineman Cody Rogers will begin the campaign at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds and should anchor the line at center. Slade Brown and Blake Trainor have similar size at the tackle spots.

Senior receiver Chris Kuler is an established bright spot. He should be available off an ACL tear sustained last season.

Josh Taylor, a junior running back, seems ready to be the top guy in the backfield. He put up 537 yards and six touchdowns with his 92 carries behind now-graduated starter Lance Hardman.

Even out of the box, senior quarterback Payton McGarvey is not expected to be a big drop off from Roger McCuller.

Hallsville is bringing back seven defenders from a unit that averaged a solid 27.6 points against per game in the run to the area round.

The Bobcats' defensive front should be especially strong in the middle with linebackers James Nelson and Blair Fernandez back in the fold. They combined for 214 tackles last year.

District 16-5A is no joke. Marshall and Texas High especially will be challenges off their share of last year's district championship.

But the remainder of the league should benefit from the loss of Longview to the Class 6A level. The University Interscholastic League did not replace Longview in the group, so four district teams will make it out into the postseason and a minority three will be eliminated rather than four.

Buy into this team making it back to the playoffs for a third consecutive season.

2016 Hallsville Bobcats Football Schedule

Aug. 26at WhitehouseL 28-15
Sept. 2Wylie EastL 49-0
Sept. 9at JacksonvilleL 28-13
Sept. 16NacogdochesL 35-14
Sept. 23*Mount PleasantW 24-20 (OT)
Sept. 30*at GreenvilleW 33-12
Oct. 7OPEN
Oct. 14*Pine TreeL 22-17
Oct. 21*at MarshallL 46-17
Oct. 28*Texas HighL 34-8
Nov. 4*at Sulphur SpringsL 35-21

ETSN.fm Preseason Class 6A/5A Poll

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