Llano football will be in district with smaller schools in 2014

JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF

LLANO — Christmas came early for the Llano High School football team, though the Yellowjackets won’t be able to use their gift until the 2014 season.

School district superintendents in Class 3A approved a measure in a 102-65 vote that will put schools with large enrollments into one division and schools with small enrollments in another at the beginning of district play. The only sport this applies to, however, is football.

“I was worried we were going to get out-voted,” Llano athletic director and head football coach Craig Slaughter said. “Some of the depth issues smaller schools deal with are taken out of the equation.”

That means starting in 2014, Llano — with an enrollment of 510 students — will not have to play Burnet (951), Lampasas (978), Liberty Hill (807), Brownwood (938) or Gatesville (826) in district.

“It makes the playing field in football as level as you can get,” Slaughter said.

Why not the other sports? Slaughter believes it’s because a University Interscholastic League study that was conducted a decade ago concluded schools with larger enrollments won 85 percent of the state football championships.

“In other sports, one kid can have a way bigger impact,” he said. “In all the other sports, you see the distance staying the same. We should be with (Lampasas, Burnet and Liberty Hill) in all the other sports.”

The Llano coach said the change doesn’t mean the Yellowjackets won’t ever schedule these opponents in football. The matchups just might happen in nondistrict play.

Slaughter said it is anyone’s prediction where the University Interscholastic League will place Llano in 2014, though he doesn’t believe it will be in a district to the west because there are not any 3A members with similar enrollments in that direction.

“Llano is very isolated,” he said. “I really think you’re going way south to San Antonio or way east towards Rockdale or Giddings, some of those guys with similar enrollments.”

Burnet athletic director Kurt Jones said he wasn’t surprised about the result of the vote. But with school district budgets already stretched, he wondered what the travel costs would be.

“There are some of those concerns,” he said. “I don’t know how the UIL will shake that up once they hand out the details.”

jfierro@thepicayune.com