KHS Football

Kilgore High School junior Donovan Adkins (2) finds running room against Crandall in a November playoff game between the schools. The Ragin’ Red will play in a similar football district this fall, even after the UIL’s realignment announcement on Monday. But a glaring absence from Kilgore’s district is Carthage, which has become a state power since 2008. Carthage and Van both moved down to the smaller Class 4A, Division II. Athens, Mabank and Lindale joined Kilgore’s district.

One thing UIL realignment brings each year is change – that much is guaranteed.

So while the bulk of the district involving Kilgore High School football has changed, there are new members, and one glaring absence: Carthage is no longer a member.

The University Interscholastic League announced its realignment on Monday morning, assigning its 1,400 Texas high schools to their various districts for the next two school years (2020-21, and 2021-22) based on enrollment.

As predicted in December, with the release of cutoff numbers, Kilgore remained in UIL Class 4A, Division I – the bigger of the two 4A classes – for football, and did remained paired with archrival (the baseball-basketball-softball-volleyball district is normally a bit different; there is a story on the new districts for the other sports here in this sports section).

Kilgore football will now compete in 4A-DI, District 9, along with Henderson, Palestine and Chapel Hill – those four remained together from the last time out – along with newcomers Athens, Lindale, and Mabank, a seven-team district. That means coaches in that district, including Kilgore’s Mike Wood, will need to find three non-district opponents to fill out their 2020 football schedules.

Tentatively, he has done so. Kilgore’s non-district opponents in the 2020 football season will be Nacogdoches, Gladewater, Pine Tree and Hallsville. The full schedule, home and away, will be announced as soon as it’s final.

The UIL announced its cutoff numbers for the classifications back in early December, so it was known then that both Van and Carthage – a seven-time state champion in football this century and long a Kilgore rival – would drop down from the old district with Kilgore and Henderson to the smaller 4A, Division II.

Van will compete next season in 4A-DII, District 7, with Brownsboro, Bullard, Canton and Mexia. Carthage will be in District 10-4A-DII alongside Center, Jasper, Madisonville, Rusk and Shepherd.

As far as the new Kilgore football opponents, Athens, Lindale and Mabank, the Ragin’ Red hasn’t played any of them a lot. Kilgore once played Athens regularly, a series that dates back all the way to 1933. But the two programs haven’t met regularly since the 1980s, really, other than a home-and-home in 1992 and 1993 that, oddly enough, both ended in ties.

Kilgore is 16-6-3 all-time against Athens. The two last played in a first-round playoff back in 2012, a 42-7 KHS win. Athens hasn’t beaten Kilgore in football since 1975.

The other two, Mabank and Lindale, Kilgore has played sparingly, if that. The Bulldogs have met Mabank in other sports, but never in football, and Kilgore has only faced Lindale eight times: the Ragin’ Red have a 6-2 record against the Eagles. Lindale beat Kilgore in 1990 and then again in 2008, here at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium. Kilgore returned the favor and defeated Lindale in 2009 at Lindale, a wild 55-44 affair in coach Mike Vallery’s final season here.

Lindale went 7-4 last season, losing to Lamar Consolidated in the first round of the 5A, DII playoffs. They went 11-11 the two seasons prior.

Mabank’s Panthers went 6-4 last year, a big turnaround from the previous two seasons, when the Panthers went a combined 3-17.

Mabank is north of Athens, and may find a true East Texas district challenging, travel-wise. It’s about 82 miles, one way, to Kilgore from Mabank, and about 50 miles from Mabank to Lindale. It’s 56 from Mabank to Palestine.

There weren’t a lot of changes for the other schools in the Kilgore News Herald’s coverage area. Sabine remained in Class 3A, Division I, but West Rusk drops down to 3A, DII. Overton remained in Class 2A, Division II. Leverett’s Chapel, the only six-man football program in the News Herald’s coverage area,

Sabine, who just had a 10-2 season and won its first-ever playoff game (over Mount Vernon), will compete in District 6-3A, DI this fall, along with old rival Gladewater, Atlanta, Jefferson, New Boston, Tatum and White Oak.

West Rusk’s Raiders will be back with a few old rivals themselves in District 9-3A, DII with Arp and Troup, as well as Harmony, Grand Saline, Quitman and Winona.

Overton’s Mustangs will be in 2A-DII’s District 11. With them there are Tenaha, West Sabine, Mount Enterprise, Lovelady, Cushing and Colmesneil.

LC, one of 153 schools in the state with six-man programs, will play in 1A-Division I, District 10, alongside Union Hill and Fruitvale, as well as newcomers Campbell and Savoy. Out is High Island, a southeast Texas team that is about 4 ½ hours of travel, one way.

In other news of interest from the UIL’s announcement involving East Texas programs, District 8-4A, DII will have a big-time local flavor with 4A power Gilmer, Spring Hill, Pittsburg, new power Pleasant Grove and Liberty-Eylau joined by Paris-area North Lamar.

The Longview-area 5A schools will continue to stay together in District 9-5A, DII: Hallsville, Pine Tree, and Marshall, along with Jacksonville, Mount Pleasant, Texas High, Whitehouse and Nacogdoches, a district that covers a lot of East Texas area. Texas High dropped down from 5A-DI to the smaller 5A-DII.

Longview, of course, moved back to 5A, Division I, rather than 6A. The Lobos, a season removed from a state championship, are in 5A-DI, District 7 with, of all schools, Highland Park – the Scots are a Dallas-area power in several sports, not just football.

Also in the district with the Lobos and HP are John Tyler, McKinney North, Sherman, West Mesquite, Wylie East and New Caney.

Controversy will likely be caused by Lufkin – a 5A, DI school not as far from Longview, and a Lobos rival – being placed in District 8, a different district than Longview, along with College Station, Cleveland, Caney Creek, Magnolia, Magnolia West, New Caney Porter and Waller.

Tyler Lee is still Class 6A, and remained in a district – District 10-6A – with the Mesquite schools (Mesquite, Mesquite Horn, and North Mesquite), as well as Dallas Skyline, Rockwall and Rockwall Heath. So there’s travel in store for the Rebels, as they undertake yet another new coaching staff direction.

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