STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
AUSTIN — The University Interscholastic League revealed several surprises during its realignment announcements Feb. 1 for new districts beginning with the 2018-19 school year that affect Marble Falls, Burnet, and Llano high schools.
The Mustangs (1,240-student enrollment) football team will play in District 13-5A Division II Region IV and face Bastrop (1,469), Bastrop Cedar Creek (1,623), Brenham (1,474), Elgin (1,297), Georgetown East View (1,607), Leander Glenn (1,514), and Pflugerville Weiss (1,768).
Boys athletics coordinator and head football coach Mike Birdwell said the big surprise was seeing Brenham in the district. And that shock was for just about every team in the district, including the coaches at the Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex in Round Rock, where they received their official notices of the new districts from the UIL
“Brenham didn’t have anybody there,” Birdwell said. “Most of the experts had a good read on who the opponents are going to be. The big surprise is Brenham.”
Birdwell noted that some of the district opponents are familiar to the Mustangs.
Marble Falls went 2-0 against Cedar Creek the past two years. The Mustangs and East View were in the same district in 2014 and 2015 and split the series 1-1.
“It’s an interesting district in football,” Birdwell said. “I feel very confident our coaches and kids will put a plan together to help us be successful as far as our district is concerned.
The Mustangs will play football in 5A Division II, which is the small schools division, with a student enrollment of 1,150-1,839. That division will have 127 members.
This is the first year, the UIL has included a Division I and a Division II for 5A football for district competition. This also shifts the Marble Falls basketball and volleyball squads into different districts from the football team.
For volleyball and basketball, Marble Falls will play in District 17-5A Region III against Cedar Park (2,030), Leander Glenn (1,514), Leander Rouse (1,862), Pflugerville (2,055), Pflugerville Connally (1,857), and Pflugerville Weiss (1,768).
MFISD athletics director Rick Hoover said the coaches “are still wrapping their brains around that one.
“It’s not the end of the world so much as it is just different than it is in football,” he added.
The travel time will be shorter than going to Castroville Medina Valley, Lockhart, and Seguin, which is something Hoover liked.
“That matters when you play twice a week,” he said.
Burnet and Llano already knew they wouldn’t be district foes in football, but the UIL separated the two schools in all other sports, too.
The Bulldogs football team will play in District 14-4A Division I against Comal Canyon Lake (1,032), Fredericksburg (1,017), Lampasas (1,008), Liberty Hill (1,122), and Taylor (1,024).
Class 4A Division I has a total of 92 other schools whose enrollment is 790-1,149 students.
Burnet head football coach and athletics director Kurt Jones said coaches thought this district was one possibility for the football team.
“We’re not surprised,” he said. “It’s an interesting lineup. We’re still with Lampasas and Liberty Hill; that stayed the same. Now, we’re playing Taylor, Fredericksburg, and Canyon Lake. There are some good matchups in district competition.”
The Bulldogs have played all their new district foes in either pre-district, district play, or the postseason, so coaches are familiar with them.
Burnet’s basketball and volleyball squads will play in District 27-4A against Eastside Memorial, Lampasas, Liberty Hill, Salado (563), and Taylor (1,024). The only change the UIL made was adding Eastside Memorial and removing Llano.
“I think it’ll be a good competitive district,” Jones said. “These are teams we feel good about. It’s an exciting day.”
The Llano Yellow Jackets football team will play in District 13-4A Division II and will face Austin Eastside Memorial (685), Bandera (656), Cuero (682), Geronimo Navarro (608), and Wimberley (740).
Division II has a total of 90 other schools with an enrollment of 505-789 students.
Cuero stirs things up as the Gobblers have won their previous district the past two years. Navarro and Wimberley, who competed in the same football district as Llano the past two years, went first and second both of those years in division play. All three teams reached the state semifinals the past three years.
Llano head football coach and athletics director Matt Green noted that had the Jackets won their bi-district championship the past two years, they would have faced Cuero in the next round.
Now, the Yellow Jackets will deal with the Gobblers in district play.
Llano’s basketball and volleyball programs are in District 28-4A and will face Bandera (656), Boerne (1,099), Canyon Lake, Fredericksburg, and Wimberley.
“It’s good for our other sports to get a change of scenery,” Green said. “(We’ve) been paired up with (Lampasas, Liberty Hill, and Burnet) for years now. Now, you’re playing people who you’re not familiar with and they’re not familiar with you.”
He noted that each new district foe, many of whom Llano has played in non-district contests, will be a quality opponent and force the Yellow Jackets to continue to prepare very well for each contest. In that sense, he added, little has changed for the teams.
The UIL holds realignment every two years with the next one scheduled for 2020. Go to uiltexas.org for more information.