By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (January 29, 2018) — If area football coaches seem to be all over the map with realignment thoughts it’s because they could very well end up just about anywhere on that map when the UIL unveils football districts for 2018 and 2019 on its website – UILTexas.org – and in front of coaches scattered across Texas at whatever regional location they believe will serve them best.
With their somewhat centralized location and an abundance of scenarios in play, schools in Erath and surrounding counties could be sent to Region I or II, and for a couple, it’s not out of the question to land in Region III, where Dublin went in 2014 and 2015.
Stephenville head coach Greg Winder and De Leon head coach David Yeager each predicted where they will end up, but did so cautiously and with immediate disclaimers.
“I think we will go west again and be with Brownwood, San Angelo Lakeview, Big Spring and maybe even Mineral Wells,” said Winder. “But that’s just a hunch, who knows whati they will do. Someone told me they read on that social media crap that we could go to Region II, but the same people who have us going east to Region II have Argyle going west and staying in Region I, so take that for what it’s worth.”
Bob Cervetto at Dublin isn’t asking anyone to reveal their district ahead of time, but he would appreciate an email or phone call letting him know which service center he should plan to grace with his presence Thursday morning.
“We never seem to go to the right place,” Cervetto said. “Our first realignment trip we went to Fort Worth, got there and realized we should have gone to Abilene. So the next time we go to Abilene and they send us to Waco. The third time comes around and we g to Waco, and Ill be danged if they didn’t move us back to Region I and we should have been in Abilene. If we get out there tomorrow and find out we needed to be in Birdville I may just watch the rest of these from my office and work the phones from there.”
He and offensive coordinator Greg Hardcastle are going to Abilene and he’s also sending two coaches to Waco.
Yeager said almost any direction is possible for his De Leon Bearcats, too.
“I could see us going west, I could see us going south and I could see us going east,” Yeager aid. “I can’t really see us going north, but I could see us going kind of northwest. I’ve even seen where someone has us rubber banding and heading out west with Olney, Stamford, Forsan and Winters.”
But of all the scenarios, Yeager believes one makes more sense than the rest.
“I would never bet on it, but if I were a betting man, I would say we get into a five team (district) with Hico, Goldthwaite, San Saba and Mason.
What a district that would be, as De Leon reached the round of 16 in 2017 and the quarterfinals in 2016, success attributed largely to the class that will be seniors this fall. Mason is regularly near the top of state polls and Hico has been a power in recent seasons, reaching the semifinals as recently as 2014.
Hico head coach Randy Thornton says he isn’t trying to swim in the pool of possibilities, but that mean he hasn’t let his feet dangle in the water.
“It will be what it will be. With everyone already knowing the division cuts ahead of time, that takes some of the surprise out of it,” Thornton said.
Hico, he feels, could even be on the verge of heading south and east with schools such as Marlin and Bruceville-Eddy falling to 2A Division I. Marlin is just south of Waco and Bruceville-Eddy a bit west of there near Crawford.
Thornton realizes sticking with some of their current district rivals could also be in the cards for Hico. If he gets his way, though, there will be some different schools on the schedule.
“I always hope they shake it up some, I like seeing new faces and new teams,” he said.
Winder, the District 8-4A and All-Big Country Coach of the Year, says all he knows is that nobody oustside the UIL really knows.
“All I can guarantee,” he said, “is there are no guarantees.”
Will Stephenville even be back in Region I-4A. Head coach Greg Winder thinks his team will be back to defend their regional title, but admits there are no guarantees.
Since coaches can’t control realignment, scheduling has been the primary focus for most.
“The main thing with scheduling is to be sure you never have back-to-back bye’s, you can’t have that, and then you want to avoid long travel as much as possible.“I’d like to avoid having another situation where we have to go somewhere like Lubbock Monterrey to find a game.”
He’s hoping for at least a six-tam district and says he wouldn’t even mind being grouped with seven or eight schools.
“When you go into a district with only four other teams it puts you in a bind because you’re looking for a game when most everyone is already in district,” he said. “I’d like to not have to deal with that again.”
He said coaches go into realignment with two drafts of pre-district schedules and a network of their own staff members and others in the coaching fraternity on standby as they try to fill their schedule out as quickly as possible.
“We want to get together with our district coaches as quickly as possible so we can get that part of the schedule set while also finalizing the rest of it,” said Winder. “If it all goes well, we’ll leave Birdville Thursday morning with the schedule pretty much set.”
Thornton agrees that once the intrigue is gone, the Hico schedule is his only concern.
“It’s fun, kind of gives us a taste of football in February,” Thornton said. “But once the excitement dies down, then just give 10 schools next to 10 dates and let’s go.”