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Schools prepare for changes after UIL releases realignment

By MIKE FORMAN
Feb. 3, 2014 at 11:03 p.m.
Updated Feb. 3, 2014 at 8:04 p.m.

From left to right, Tidehaven superintendent Andrew Seigrist, Rice Consolidated athletic director and head football coach Gary Zeinert, Refugio superintendent Jack Gaskins,  and Victoria school district athletic director Ralph Escalona gather as  UIL realignment packets are passed out at the Region III Education Service Center on Monday morning.

The reality of realignment hit Trey Lawrence immediately after the packets were passed out Monday morning at the Region III Education Service Center.

"We're in the SEC," the Shiner superintendent said.

Shiner will be joined by Refugio, Ganado, Schulenburg, Flatonia and Weimar in football District 15-2A, Division I for the next two seasons.

"Everybody has been saying this is how it is going to be, so I kind of had my mind ready for that," said Shiner athletic director and head football coach Steven Cerny. "There's going to be some good ones left at home. It's going to be more important than ever to be prepared each week."

The University Interscholastic League released its biennial realignment for football and basketball for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years.

Schools learned their classifications in December but had yet to learn their district assignments.

Refugio and Schulenburg dropped a classification and moved into a district in which every team made the playoffs last season and includes two state finalists.

"I know it sounds crazy, but we're extremely fired up to be in a really, really tough district," said Refugio athletic director and head football coach Jason Herring. "Our kids will have to battle each and every week, and I think whatever three teams make the playoffs will be battle-tested and ready to go."

Herring was worried the Bobcats would be sent into a less competitive district to the south.

"We've had it the other way for a while, and nobody understands," he said. "Now, we won't have to worry about scoring too many points and all that garbage. We can just play."

With Class 4A - previously 3A - being divided into two divisions for football, the Advocate area will include 14 districts, including three in Region III.

The state's longest continuous rivals, El Campo and Bay City, moved back in the same district (12-4A, Division I) but will compete in Region III in football and Region IV in basketball.

Bay City and El Campo's basketball district will include Wharton, which will also compete in Region III (District 12, Division II) in football.

"I guess the thing that we were surprised about was going to Region III," said El Campo athletic director and head football coach Bob Gillis. "When you take a school out of Waco and put it in Region IV and our schools go to Region III, it just doesn't seem to make much sense to me.

"Kilgore and Carthage and all those guys are in Region III, and they're closer to the Waco area than us. I know it's a big job. It seems there were a lot of big surprises this go-round."

Bay City athletic director and head football coach Dan Burk was happy to drop in classification, but is well aware of the difficulty of competing in Region III.

"The first and second round - those kind of things are really tough in Region III," Burk said. "It's a whole lot tougher than Region IV. It's a little different world as far as challenges and what you've got to do to get very far in Region III than Region IV."

Cuero and Yoakum will not only be heading south into District 15-4A, Division II, but they'll also compete in a five-team district with Sinton, Ingleside and Jourdanton.

"The most challenging part is that we have to find six non-district games," said Cuero athletic director and head football coach Travis Reeve. "You're trying to find games with quality people. You want your non-district schedule to make you better for the district run."

Hallettsville athletic director Tommy Psencik is facing the same challenge after the Brahmas were placed in District 15-3A, Division I with Goliad, George West, Mathis and San Antonio Brooks Academy.

But Psencik admitted the Brahmas fared well from a competitive standpoint after moving away from Hempstead and Edna. Defending state champion Cameron Yoe and playoff foes Lago Vista and McGregor moved into Region III.

"I think the district got a little easier in a lot of ways," Psencik said. "There's mixed feelings on the whole deal. The only thing I'm worried about is finding quality games and keeping our kids healthy. That's a long time to wait for district."

Bloomington ended last season with its first district win since 2002.

The Bobcats got a boost going into next season after being sent to District 15-3A, Division II with Banquete, Odem, Santa Gertrudis Academy, Skidmore-Tynan and Taft.

"This is the best thing that could have happened for us realignmentwise," said Bloomington athletic director and head football coach Layne Elkins. "I think it's something we can build on. I think this is something that can pump the kids up a little bit and keep them working hard and let them know we've got a chance."

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