Late in the regular-season schedule (Oct. 26) sits a game that could decide the District 9-2A Division II championship. Hughes Springs and Elysian Fields enter 2012 widely regarded as the favorites in the new 9-2A D-II, and for good reason.

Hughes Springs won a district title a year ago before reaching the regional semifinals, while Elysian Fields won eight games.

Hughes Springs has eight defensive starters back from a team that beat EF 28-7 in district play a year ago en route to a 5-0 league mark. Defensive linemen Cameron Brewer and Kadarrian Chism give the Mustangs a solid duo to counter Elysian Fields’ offense, which features 10 returning starters. Jackets quarterback Trevor Spear threw for more than 1,300 yards in 2011, when receivers Nathan Hall and Christian Smith were reliable targets.

Hughes Springs’ 2011 victory was the second in as many years against Elysian Fields, which dropped a 21-20 decision to the Mustangs in 2010, another season that ended in a 5-0 Mustang district run. Those back-to-back district titles heap more preseason expectations on the Mustangs, who are ranked ninth in 2A Division II by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine, which tabs Elysian Fields as one of 2A’s top darkhorses.

Top 25 Games of the Year

No. 18: Gilmer vs. Atlanta

No. 19: Whitehouse vs. Carthage

No. 20: Daingerfield vs. New Boston

No. 21: Carlisle vs. Big Sandy

No. 22: Palestine vs Jacksonville

No. 23: Tenaha vs. San Augustine

No. 24: Gilmer vs. Daingerfield

No. 25: John Tyler vs. Tyler Lee