Chapel Hill and Henderson might be headed for another showdown in the Class 3A Division I state final. The Associated Press believes so, anyway.
A season after clashing in one of the most memorable matchups in East Texas history, the Highway 64 rivals are atop the AP’s preseason rankings. Released on Thursday, the poll has Chapel Hill at No. 1 and Henderson at No. 2 entering their Aug. 26 season openers.
As expected, the coaches for the Bulldogs and Lions are giving little credence --- publicly, at least --- to the poll.
“The rankings, that’s nice, but it just doesn’t mean very much,” Henderson coach Dickey Meeks said. “It’s good publicity and that kind of thing. …and it’s a great thing that people think you are going to be a good team.”
Considering that both teams reached the final game of the playoffs and return much of their rosters, there’s little surprise that Chapel Hill and Henderson are ranked so high. For some, however, there might be some surprise in the order in which they’re placed.
That’s because Henderson captured the first state title in program history with a 28-21 win against Chapel Hill on Dec. 10 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. The Bulldogs seem to have the edge in returning talent, though, further evidenced by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football placing the teams in the same order in its preseason poll, released in June.
Meanwhile, two other East Texas powers are in 3A’s preseason top 10 and two up-and-comers received votes. Three-time Division II champion Carthage is fifth and 2009 Division I champ Gilmer is seventh, while 2010 quarterfinalist Athens got five votes and Lindale received two votes.
In Class 4A, John Tyler is hoping to make a run at the Class 4A Division I title after going four rounds deep in its first season since dropping from 5A. The Lions begin their second year in the state’s second largest classification at No. 9, the only East Texas squad to crack the top 10 or receive votes.
The 4A top 10 is comprised of annual powers, led by two-time defending Division II champion Aledo at No. 1, Brenham at No. 2 and four-time defending Division I champ Lake Travis at No. 3.
In Class 5A, the poll is also loaded with tradition as Allen is first, Katy is second and Euless Trinity is third. Defending Division I champion Pearland is fourth and defending Division II champ Cibolo Steele is sixth.
Longview, a season after making a surprise run to the state semifinals, rounds out the poll at No. 10, while Lufkin received eight votes.
Daingerfield’s quest for a fourth consecutive state title in 2A appears on track as the Tigers are No. 1 in the poll, six points ahead of second-ranked Tatum. Daingerfield’s biggest threat for the District 8-2A Division I crown, New Boston, is third.
Arp received one vote.
In Class 1A, Tenaha is eighth and Alto received two votes.
The top three consists of Canadian, Ganado and Windthorst, respectively. Mart, the defending Division I champion, is fifth and defending Division II champ Falls City is seventh.
For the complete poll, click here.