JESSIEVILLE: Lions in the hunt for conference title

Classification: 5-3A
Coach: Don Phillips
Last Season: 8-4 (4-3)

Fresh off its second consecutive eight-win season, Jessieville enters 2012 with hopes of a conference championship and a deep playoff run. However, with just four offensive starters and only five defensive starters returning, the Lions have many holes to fill.

Senior Brandin Natzke (6-2, 178) succeeds the graduated Dalton Oates at quarterback this year. Natzke backed up Oates the past two years and will have many wide receiver targets, including seniors Jake Applegate (6-1, 189) and Hunter Mayfield (5-10, 158) and junior Josh Mitchell (5-11, 154), who returns from a broken arm last year.

Explosive senior D.J. Hayes (5-9, 161) retains his role at halfback and should see a lot of work throughout the season. Junior fullback Johnny Chambers (5-11, 234) could be a powerful component for short-yardage situations.

Senior guard Dakota Graves (6-1, 229) will serve as a leader on both lines, which appear to have depth, but are young.

The Lions face a tough conference schedule this year, playing on the road at Glen Rose and Fountain Lake, two teams that should be in contention for the conference title.