The answers to a two-year-old question will be revealed Thursday morning as the University Interscholastic League releases its biennial realignment for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years.
In December, the UIL announced the classification cutoff numbers and speculation about where schools will land has only increased since that point.
For the Brownwood Lions, after playing the same four district opponents in football the past four seasons, major changes will be coming. What exactly will happen, however, is anyone’s guess.
“That’s the magic question,” said Lions head football coach and athletic director Kyle Maxfield. “You hear all sorts of rumors. I have no insight, and if anybody does I don’t know where they’re getting it.”
Brownwood will remain in Class 4A Division I with an enrollment of 958, as the cutoff is between 790 and 1,149 students. Gone, however, will be Abilene Wylie (1,164) as it will move up to Class 5A Division II while Snyder (726) will slip down to Class 4A Division II, leaving the Lions, Stephenville and Big Spring as the only remaining Class 4A Division I teams from District 3.
“With us losing Wylie and Snyder, if we only lost one of those teams it might be easier to figure out right now,” Maxfield said, referencing the possibility of sliding another team, such as San Angelo Lake View, into an empty slot. “We’ve heard rumors about us being tied together with Lake View and going any direction. Any district they put us in we’ll be competitive, but travel concerns are always an issue.”
Possibilities include the Lions going northeast with some combination of Argyle, Alvarado, Burkburnett, Fort Worth Benbrook, Lake Worth, Midlothian Heritage, Mineral Wells, Sanger, Springtown, Stephenville or Wichita Falls Hirschi.
Brownwood could also head south or southeast with the likes of Burnet, Gatesville, La Vega, Lampasas and Liberty Hill.
Another option is an even farther trip west with potential district mates of San Angelo Lake View, Big Spring, Seminole, Andrews and Canyon, among others.
While the district schedule is up in the air, Maxfield stated the Lions’ pre-district slate looks promising at the moment but that could all unravel Thursday morning. Certainties are Brownwood will be playing 5A Division II Abilene Wylie and 4A Division II Graham the next two years. And there are currently no neutral site games scheduled.
“It’s definitely going to be a more friendly schedule unless something crazy happens Thursday,” Maxfield said.
In Class 3A Division I, Early’s district will also experience significant changes with Brady, Comanche and Merkel all dropping down to Class 3A Division II.
Based on enrollment numbers, a potential six-team district for Early could include Jim Ned, Wall, Eastland — moving up from Class 3A Division II — Clyde and Breckenridge. Early head football coach and athletic director Blake Sandford has seen predictions where the Longhorns will go either east or west, and likely not be the central point of a district.
“I’ve seen it where we go east a little bit since Eastland is coming up and I’ve seen it where we go west and keep Clyde and Jim Ned,” Sandford said. “I don’t know which way we’re going, but I know our kids are excited about the challenge. Whoever we play we’re going to take it one game a week and get after it.
“I don’t prefer one direction or the other because every team is going to be well-coached and everything is going to be a challenge. Whoever you face is going to be a good football team so we’re going to have to step up our game and better ourselves.”
The Longhorns’ tentative pre-district schedule is in place as Early will open against archrival Bangs followed by contests against Coleman, Tolar, Hamilton and Hico. If Early is lumped into seven-team district, that schedule could change.
Bangs, which is currently without a head football coach and athletic director after Jim Bird’s resignation in late December, will remain in Class 3A Division II.
The Dragons’ district will likely also be considerably revamped due to the number of schools near Bangs that are dropping to Division II. Possible district foes for the Dragons include the aforementioned Brady, Comanche, and Merkel along with current league foes Dublin, Cisco, Coleman and Tolar. Other possibilities on the schedule include Grape Creek, Ballinger, Colorado City, Coahoma, Sonora, Anson and Reagan County.
In the six-man ranks, Blanket will be dropping down to Class A Division II and will join local schools Brookesmith, Richland Springs, Rising Star, Brookesmith, Sidney, and Panther Creek.
Class A Division I, schools with enrollments up to 105 students, will consist of local squads May, Zephyr and Santa Anna.
In all other sports, cutoff numbers for Class 4A are 505 to 1,149 students, while Class 3A is 225 to 504 students.