By MITCH LUCAS
The one thing certain to come out of today’s announcement of enrollment-based realignment by the University Interscholastic League: change.
And the “District of Doom” didn’t see a lot of change, but enough to keep things interesting.
In the newest statewide reorganizing of districts by the UIL, which the league announced online and on Fox Sports Southwest, Kilgore – which remained in Class 4A, Division I – will still play rivals Carthage and Henderson in district competition, now in the new District 10-4A, DI. Palestine and Chapel Hill will also come along for the ride. And now, in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years, Van will also be in the mix.
Gone from the district are Bullard and Center, which rightfully dropped down a classification to 4A, Division II.
So, coach Mike Wood and the Ragin’ Red will have five district opponents. Wood confirmed with the News Herald Thursday afternoon that Kilgore’s non-district opponents are also set.
The Bulldogs will scrimmage Gilmer and Kaufman, and the non-district schedule will feature games against Nacogdoches, Hallsville, Pine Tree, Texas High and Pittsburg. Sites and dates, of course, are yet to be set, as is the order for the district contests.
Kilgore has opened its last several seasons against Nacogdoches, a former district rival. Hallsville, once a mainstay on Kilgore’s schedule, is back after a number of years’ absence.
Kilgore faces Pine Tree annually, and has played Texas High in a home-and-home series the last two years, and both of those programs also return to the ‘18 schedule.
The Bulldogs have never faced Pittsburg on the football field, so shows the News Herald’s Kilgore football records that date back to the program’s first season. Kilgore had never faced Van in football until the 2013 season. Kilgore routed Van, 49-7, in the first round of the playoffs in a game at Lindale. The Bulldogs would go on to reach the 3A Division I state championship game that season.
Football and the other sports, though, are often different in district play, and that is the case again with this new realignment. The Bulldogs have an interesting district list for sports like basketball, baseball, volleyball, etc. Kilgore will play in District 16-4A, and their district opponents will be Bullard, Gilmer, Henderson, Spring Hill, Chapel Hill, and new 4A member Cumberland Academy, a Tyler-area school that currently competes in sports on the 3A level.
Soccer districts are much different, due to the lack of soccer programs and 3A playing “up” against many 4A classifications. When soccer districts are announced, the News Herald will announce those, as well.
The only school in the News Herald’s coverage area that actually changed classification was West Rusk, whose Raiders went from playing in the smaller Class 3A, Division II the last two seasons to now being members of 3A, DI.
The Raiders, in football, will now face Gladewater (down to 3A DI from 4A DII), Mineola, Tatum, White Oak and Winnsboro, as well as another News Herald-area program, Sabine. That will be the new District 8-3A, Division I. With that, of course, Sabine picks up another local rival in West Rusk, and loses former district members Redwater and Jefferson.
In basketball, baseball and most other sports, both Sabine and West Rusk will compete in District 16-3A, along with Arp, Harmony, Gladewater, Troup, White Oak and Winona.
Overton, which will remain a Class 2A, Division II program in football, will be in District 10-2A, DI, along with new district foes Clarksville and Detroit, as well as Maud, Mount Enterprise, and Simms Bowie. The Mustangs will play other sports in District 16-2A, along with Beckville, Big Sandy, Union Grove, Harleton, Hawkins and longtime rival Carlisle.
Leverett’s Chapel, the only six-man football program in the News Herald’s coverage area, will be in District 12-1A, Division I, along with Fruitvale, Union Hill, and High Island, a coastal school that makes for a long trip.
In other East Texas realignment news, Gilmer stays in 4A, DII, and will play in District 6 with Spring Hill, Pittsburg, Liberty-Eylau and Pleasant Grove (the defending state champion). Bullard, as mentioned, drops down to 4A, DII and gets slotted in District 7 with Brownsboro, Canton, Rusk and Wills Point.
Many of the Longview-area schools – some of Kilgore’s bigger rivals – will all be back together in Class 5A, Division II, the smaller 5A programs. It’ll be in District 9, which will include Hallsville, Jacksonville, Lindale, Pine Tree, Marshall, Mount Pleasant, Nacogdoches and Whitehouse.
John Tyler is now in 5A, Division I, with bigger 5A programs, and the Lions will play in District 7, with McKinney North, Mesquite Poteet, Sherman, Texas High, West Mesquite and Wylie East. Lufkin is also in 5A, DI, and they’ll lean south with College Station, Conroe’s Caney Creek, Magnolia, Magnolia West, Tomball, Waller and Willis.
Longview is in 6A, District 11, against Mesquite, Mesquite Horn, North Mesquite, Rockwall, Rockwall-Heath and Tyler Lee, for football and basketball.