It seems like a small change, but the reverberations will be felt from the season’s beginning to end.
The University Interscholastic League released its biennial realignment Monday morning, altering the landscape of high school athletics for the upcoming years, and while the announcement merely tweaked the appearance of District 12-6A, the move is massive.
Waco along with perennial power Waco Midway were removed from the district, while Bryan was brought in to join Killeen, Ellison, Harker Heights, Shoemaker, Copperas Cove, Belton and Temple.
Although much remains the same, looks can be deceiving.
“This was a big realignment,” Harker Heights head football coach Jerry Edwards said, “and it added a lot of excitement.
“There was a possibility this would happen, but nobody really knew. Now, everything is a scramble, because we didn’t know it would become an eight-team district.”
Shrinking the district to eight teams allows for an additional game prior to beginning the seven-game battle for playoff berths, and the experience of an extra game is invaluable, according to Copperas Cove head football coach Jack Alvarez said.
“We’re going to have that extra week” he said, “and the way the district is set up right now, we will all have a bye in Week 4. So, that’s four weeks before we start district play.
“That’s definitely going to be beneficial for everyone.”
And while the Lions and Panthers left the district, they did not go far.
Midway and Waco moved into a ultra-talented District 11 along with Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Duncanville, Mansfield, Mansfield Lake Ridge and Waxahachie, making each a potential first-round postseason opponent for District 12-6A teams.
“On paper,” Shoemaker head coach Toby Foreman said, “that may be the toughest district I’ve ever heard of, and I’ve been doing this for 19 years.
“There’s no chink in the armor of that group.”
The setup remains the same in District 12-6A for basketball and volleyball, and it should hold true when the alignments for other sports are released no later than March 16. Smaller classifications, however, do not always maintain such cohesion.
After reaching the state semifinals in football last year, Lampasas moves to District 13-4A, Division I with Burnet, Canyon Lake, Fredericksburg, Taylor and incoming Austin Johnson (LBJ). The Jaguars, who replace Liberty Hill, drop to Class 4A after years in Class 5A, including last season, when they went 8-3.
In basketball and volleyball, Lampasas jumps to Region I, joining Brownwood, Gatesville, Glen Rose and Stephenville to make up District 6-4A.
Regardless of sport, though, Lampasas athletic director and head football coach Troy Rogers wants teams to strive for greatness, especially with Liberty Hill departing to Class 5A.
“Any time realignment comes around,” he said, “it is an opportunity to see what you’ve been doing, where you are at and where you want to go. When you’ve had teams like Liberty Hill in your district and seen what they’ve accomplished in multiple sports, you want your programs to be that.
“We want to keep working in a direction so that one day, we can be that.”
Gatesville’s football team drops to Division II, making up part of District 9-4A with China Spring, Jarrell, Robinson, Salado and Waco Connally. For the previous two seasons, the Hornets competed in District 5-4A, Division I against Brownwood, Waco La Vega, Stephenville and China Spring.
“This was good news,” Gatesville athletic director Rickey Phillips said. “This is not going to be an easy district, but it is a better place for us than where we’ve been the last two years.
“But it’s still going to be very competitive.”
Salado joins Burnet, Georgetown Gateway, Jarrell, Taylor and Lake Belton for basketball and volleyball in District 19-4A. Entering its first year of existence, Lake Belton will not have a varsity football team and will play a limited schedule in 2021. It will be involved in the next realignment prior to the 2022-2023 school year.
In Class 3A, Florence’s football team will compete in District 13-4A, Division II along with Buffalo, Clifton, Franklin, Lexington, Riesel and Rogers. In basketball and volleyball, the Buffaloes and Lady Buffaloes are paired with Caldwell, Cameron Yoe, Lexington, Little River-Academy, Rockdale and Rogers in 19-3A.
DISTRICT 12-6A (Football, basketball and volleyball)
- Copperas Cove
- Harker Heights
AREA FOOTBALL DISTRICTS
District 13-4A, D1
- Austin LBJ
- Canyon Lake
District 9-4A, D2
- China Spring
- Waco Connally
District 13-3A, D2
AREA BASKETBALL/VOLLEYBALL DISTRICTS
- Glen Rose
- Georgetown Gateway*
- Lake Belton
*-no girls basketball
- Cameron Yoe
- Little River-Academy