The poll of high school football is getting a makeover.

For decades, the Associated Press has had a poll of Texas high school football teams in all classifications, a top-15 poll that is normally released each Monday during the season, and concludes, of course, with the final poll, after state champions are crowned.

But the AP has decided to discontinue its poll, so members of the East Texas media have created their own, for rankings and as a conversation piece for fans. And we’re calling it the #BEASTTexas Fabulous 15.

The basic concept is this: before, there was a state poll for each UIL classification (6A, 5A, 4A, etc.). That will continue, in a way. This poll only encompasses schools in East Texas – schools within a range of (from Longview) west to Athens, north to Texarkana, east to Waskom, and south to Groveton.

So there will be a poll that includes programs in the three biggest classifications (6A, 5A, and 4A) and a poll that includes three others (3A, 2A, and TAPPS – 1A is six-man football in Texas).

This poll, appearing with this article, is a preseason poll. The next poll will be released on Thursday, Sept. 5 (the week following the first full weekend of games). Download the preseason poll, a PDF file, by clicking on the option at the left.

Members of media in East Texas will vote in the poll. They are Jack Stallard, George Whitley and Hunter Henry of the Longview News-Journal; Phil Hicks and Brandon Ogden of the Tyler Morning Telegraph; J. Scott Russell of the Panola Watchman; Nathan Hague of the Marshall News Messenger; freelance writer Chris Parry; John Krueger of the Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel; Josh Havard of the Lufkin Daily News; Reagan Roy of CBS 19; and Mitch Lucas of the Kilgore News Herald.

Defending Class 6A Divison II state champion Longview was a unanimous choice as the No. 1 ranked Class 6A/5A/4A team in the first #BEASTTexas Fabulous 15 poll released on Saturday.

The Lobos, who return 28 lettermen and a total of eight starters from a team that ran the table in 2018 (16-0), garnered all 12 first-place votes in the large school poll. Longview will be tested early, facing all three of the teams immediately trailing them in the poll during the regular season.

John Tyler is ranked second, Marshall third and Lufkin fourth in the poll. Kilgore, which rallied late to make the playoffs last season, is tied for 11th in the preseason poll.

Atlanta, Daingerfield and Malakoff all gathered four first-place votes in the small school poll, with Atlanta leading the pack by a slim three total points (166-163) over Daingerfield. Gladewater, despite not earning a first-place vote, is ranked one spot ahead of Malakoff.

Longview News-Journal sports editor Jack Stallard contributed to this story.

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