Mineola quarterback Jeremiah Crawford breaks free for a 50-yard gain early in the second half of last season's Class 3A Division I regional semifinal game win against Callisburg on Nov. 28, 2015.

Mineola torched teams on its way to a 14-0 record and a date with Brock in the Class 3A Division I state semifinals. Then it all came crashing down.

How do you come back from such a deflating loss? Head coach Joe Drennon believes you hop right back on the horse and face a very similar team.

The Yellowjackets asked Van to be their season-opening opponent and will try to show the area what a state championship contender from the 3A Division I level can do to a good team from the Class 4A Division I level.

Van at Mineola is expected to be a sold out Week 1 event, and the Aug. 26 meeting between the contender and bigger school defender checks in as the eighth-best game as we count down the top 25 upcoming regular season contests of the 2016 season.

The Vandals want no part of serving as a confidence booster to Mineola. They just might have the weapons to survive East Texas' third-most successful program the past two seasons.

Van receiver Isaiah Allred will begin his senior season with at least NCAA Division II college football interest. (Mark Martin, ETSN.fm)

Perhaps underlisted at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, senior Isaiah Allred is going to be a matchup problem even against a Yellowjackets defense that brings back all 11 starters from last season's state semifinalist team -- many of whom also played in the 2014 Class 3A Division I state championship game.

Pair Allred with Garrett Moseley, a junior quarterback that looks like he's about to make the jump from serviceable to standout, and Mineola has real issues. But that's even before factoring in the remainder of a deep receiver rotation and some physical backs that want to embarrass a smaller school defense that had the audacity to challenge them.

The Yellowjackets are going to have to get creative to bog Van's offense down. More than that, they're going to have to find a way to intimidate the Vandals' historically stronger side of the ball away from its absolute strength in the passing game.

Mineola's experience doesn't stop at defense. Eight starters are back on offense, including every single skill position player.

Offensive backfields just don't get more explosive than quarterback Jeremiah Crawford and running back Chantz Perkins. Both will enter the game as four-year starters and each hit at least 1,600 rushing yards last season.

Heck, Crawford went off for 2,600 yards with the aid of 15 games played. He also threw for more than 1,000 yards.

We guess you should expect fireworks from both sides.

The big question is, what will the result say about the two teams?

If Mineola wins, it obviously will legitimize itself as a 3A Division I state championship contender for a third consecutive season ahead of more non-district games against 4A opponents.

Van has a little less of a public profile to gain with the general high school fan if it wins, but getting past the battle hardened, state contending Yellowjackets really would be a significant early season accomplishment.

Will you be a part of the sellout crowd?

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