Football environments just don't get any better than Longview-Marshall games. The fanfare has always been there, but the on-field delivery has lagged behind in recent years.

We believe the Mavericks are back on the map and, consequently, the rivalry is on pace to return to its elite status. Longview at Marshall on Oct. 9 checks in as the No. 5 game on's list of the top 25 games of 2015.

It's been more than a decade since Marshall has been able to get the best of Longview.

Longview defensive back Ameron Dean won the Defensive Back Most Valuable Player Award at the + APEC Football Recruiting Combine in May. (Rob Graham,

The Mavericks have even made two old Class 4A Division I state championship appearances since the last time they won. A gradual decline after the 2005 title game appearance, culminating with a 1-9 record in 2012, didn't help in their endeavor to get over the Lobo problem.

This upcoming team could be different.

Head coach Clint Harper worked hard to turn the program around through his first two years at the helm and the effort has produced clearly defined strengths along the defensive line and within the defensive secondary.

With a balanced offense to supplement the defense, Marshall is on the cusp of fielding a complete team.

But Longview never had any issues during Marshall's rough patch. It remained mostly a state-wide power and a regional threat at its worst.

The Lobos' 2015 squad looks like it's more of the same. Skill play has never been an issue, and the program probably has the best overall trench depth chart from top-to-bottom in East Texas -- only John Tyler can make a claim otherwise.

Aside from good match ups, the game has big implications for all of District 15-5A.

Longview will open its district slate favored to win against Pine Tree and Greenville. Marshall will play the favorite against Hallsville and Pine Tree beforehand.

That should add a little extra into what already should be an exciting 105th meeting between the two schools.'s Top 25 Games of 2015