Anticipation and excitement grew February 3 in the Marble Falls and Burnet high school athletic departments when the University Interscholastic League unveiled realignment for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years.
The Mustang football team will be in the new District 14-5A Division II, which includes Austin Crockett, Austin McCallum, Austin Navarro, Austin Northeast (previously Reagan), Austin Travis, and Liberty Hill, which moves up to 5A.
Gone are Georgetown East View, Elgin, Brenham, Bastrop, Bastrop Cedar Creek, and Pflugerville Weiss, which means all new district foes for the Mustangs.
Marble Falls’ non-football District 25-5A includes previous district members Cedar Park, Leander Glenn, and Leander Rouse and new additions Georgetown, Georgetown East View, Leander, and Liberty Hill.
For Burnet, the Bulldogs football team’s District 13-4A Division I looks mostly the same with Comal Canyon Lake, Fredericksburg, Lampasas, and Taylor. The big change is the departure of Liberty Hill and the addition of Austin Johnson (LBJ).
Burnet’s non-football District 19-4A includes Jarrell, Lake Belton, Salado, and Taylor. Georgetown Gateway will only compete in the volleyball and boys basketball districts.
Gone are Austin Eastside Memorial and Liberty Hill.
Marble Falls head football coach Brian Herman said he was surprised by the new district opponents.
“I was expecting to remain in the same district,” he said. “I thought they would keep us with what we had and move out Weiss and Brenham. It was kind of a shock.”
Herman said every team in the state believes it’s playoff bound on this day, and he’s anxious to see how his players continue to prepare for the upcoming season.
“I would say it’s kinder for traveling purposes,” he said about the new district. “There are way athletic teams in that district.”
Marble Falls played many of these teams for years before the UIL sent the Mustangs south for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years to compete against Kerrville Tivy, Boerne Champion, San Antonio Alamo Heights, and other San Antonio area-schools.
When he saw the new districts, Marble Falls Independent School District Athletics Director Rick Hoover said his first thought was they made geographical sense.
“Travel wise, this is what I thought it would be,” he said. “It appears the UIL put some thought into geography. (In football), we had said for years it was always a question mark why aren’t we with the Austin schools. We’re right down the road.”
Hoover noted the non-football district uses Texas 29 for travel, making it easier for teams and fans. He said he immediately saw the old District 25-5A that dominated Region IV tournaments in almost every sport for years, which shows the depth and talent of every opponent and the pressure to be mentally and physically prepared each game night.
The fact the district has eight teams as opposed to seven means it’s a strong likelihood that basketball will have to play some district contests before the Christmas holiday, he said.
Meanwhile, Burnet’s athletic leaders have similar thoughts on their new districts.
Head football coach Jerod Rye noted that Austin Johnson played well in Class 5A, going 8-3 overall and 6-1 in District 12-5A Division I last year to finish second.
With Lampasas junior quarterback Ace Whitehead and most of the linemen on both sides of the ball returning and the experience Canyon Lake will have in 2020, Rye believes fans will see great contests every week.
“LBJ is going to be as athletic as anybody who walks on the field,” Rye said. “Lampasas brings their quarterback back, who’s as good as any 4A player in the state, and then you bring a lot of your offensive and defensive linemen back. Any time you can go into a year and feel good about your interior, you’re ahead of schedule. There’s a little bit of misconception that the district has gotten easier.”
Rye thought about scheduling Liberty Hill in non-district play but decided against it because both Lampasas and Liberty Hill run the Slot-T offense. Most of the district opponents run a version of the spread offense. Therefore, he opted to play Marble Falls and use the other non-district dates to face spread offensive teams.
Burnet Athletics Director Kurt Jones noted people have known that Liberty Hill was headed toward Class 5A during the last few realignments given the growth in that city.
“When they were in Class 4A, we were one of those schools that got them every now and then,” he said. “They knew that when they showed up to play the Bulldogs, it wasn’t automatic that they’d win.”
Jones has the authority to tell his head coaches to schedule Liberty Hill in non-district play in every sport, but he wants them to make decisions based on what they believe is best for their players and what will prepare them for district play, he said.
“They have to feel comfortable with scheduling,” he said.
While Austin Johnson is an unfamiliar opponent, Jones noted Burnet’s middle school and sub-varsity teams have faced Jarrell and Georgetown Gateway in scheduled games and tournaments.
The UIL announced in December cutoff numbers for the classifications, so Marble Falls already knew it would remain in Class 5A (1,230-2,219 enrollment), while Burnet knew it would stay in Class 4A (515-1,229 enrollment).
2020 MARBLE FALLS FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
(Dates, sites, and kickoff times to be determined)
- Week 1: Austin Lehman
- Week 2: Burnet
- Week 3: Austin Akins
- Week 4: Eagle Pass
- Week 5 Austin Travis
- Week 6 Austin McCallum
- Week 7: BYE
- Week 8: Liberty Hill
- Week 9: Austin Navarro
- Week 10: Austin Northeast (previously Reagan)
- Week 11: Austin Crockett
2020 BURNET FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
(Dates, sites, and kickoff times to be determined)
- Scrimmages: Austin Crockett and Lake Belton
- Week 1: Leander Rouse
- Week 2: Marble Falls
- Week 3: Boerne High
- Week 4: Brownwood
- Week 5: Waco Robinson
- Week 6: BYE
- Week 7: at Fredericksburg
- Week 8: Lampasas
- Week 9: at Taylor
- Week 10: at Austin Johnson (LBJ)
- Week 11: Comal Canyon Lake