LINDALE —Tyler Junior College, fresh off an 8-3 season, is picked to finish second in the SWJCFC.
Defending champion Trinity Valley Community College, which was unbeaten a year ago, is favored to repeat.
The coaches and athletic directors gathered on Thursday for the annual Southwest Junior College Football Conference Media Day at Garden Valley Golf Club.
Following TVCC and TJC in the coaches' poll are Kilgore, Navarro, Blinn, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M and Cisco.
"This should be an exciting season," said Tyler Junior College coach Danny Palmer, who is entering his ninth season as Apache boss.
The Apaches have a three-way race among three talented quarterbacks — sophomores Sederian Copeland and Tevin Muse and Jacksonville freshman Carter McCown of the famous McCown signal calling family.
"The junior college game, just as college football, iswide-open," Palmer said of the offenses.
He added the strength of the Apaches will be an offensive line that is led by Brandon Upshaw of Chapel Hill, Spencer Hendee, Andru Kirby, Henele Lea'aetoa and a transfer from Florida, Craig Smith.
Running back Terrance Taylor, a sophomore from Diboll, will return after missing last season as he was helping his mother recover from a kidney disease. Also, Ken Burks is back and Palmer added the "Apaches will miss Chaston Bennett" of Rusk, who scored 25 TDs last year.
As usual the Apaches have an arsenal of speedy wide receivers in Ryan Parker (committed to Oklahoma), Melvinson Hartfield, and John Murray, among others.
Defensively, Palmer said the strength with be the linebackers of Somari Wright, Tupe Saunoa, John Hawkins of Arp and newcomer Jonathan Tyson of West Monroe, Louisiana.
"Jon Tyson got his GED and is ready to play football," Palmer said. "He was a high school All-American at West Monroe."
Palmer said he expects improvement out of the secondary with the likes of Tyler Hayes, Nick Foster and Nate Jones.
Palmer praised the other programs at TJC, from the national championship baseball team to the softball squad; and the basketball and volleyball teams making nationals as well as tennis and golf.
Palmer said four former Apaches are on his coaching staff— Ryan Taylor (offensive coordinator/offensive line), Ryan Crouch (quarterbacks/wide receivers), Jessie Green (defensive line) and DeKerrian Cooper (defensive backs). Other coaches are Russell Thompson (defensive coordinator/linebackers) and Jordan Scott (running backs).
Former offensive coordinator Ryan Mahon left for a similiar job at Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kansas. He was with the Apaches for 10 seasons.
The new head coach in the league is Cody Crill at Navarro. He is no stranger to the conference after having played and coached at Cisco and has been at the Corsicana school the last eight years. He was the offensive coordinator.
He takes over for Brian Mayper who resigned to become the head coach of the Belgrade Wolves, the reigning Serbian and Central European Football League (CEFL) Champion for six of the last nine seasons.
The juco teams are scheduled to report on Aug. 8 and first practices are on Aug. 9.
Blinn, Navarro and Trinity Valley open their seasons on Aug. 22.
Trinity Valley will meet Nassau (New York) in Athens, while Navarro travels to Georgia Military. Blinn will play ASA of Miami in Brenham. TJC opens its season Aug. 29 with a conference game against TVCC at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.