Early to compete in eight-team league in all other sports

EARLY — The Early Longhorns will be seeking their first football playoff berth since 2008 when they tangle with new league mates Breckenridge, Clyde, Eastland, Jim Ned and Wall, who comprise the revamped District 3-3A Division I.

The University Interscholastic League revealed in 2018-19 and 2019-20 school year athletic alignments Thursday, and all four of Early's district foes are coming off playoff campaigns.

“It's going to have to some challenge but I think the other teams are going to face some challenges with us,” said Early head football coach and athletic director Blake Sandford. “We can't control other people, but we can control ourselves. We can get stronger, we can get faster and we can get better, and that's what we're really going to work on. It doesn't matter who we line up against, it matters to how much we improve and how we respond to adversity.”

The makeup of the new District 3-3A Division I didn't come as much of a surprise to Sandford.

“I figured the district would be something similar to this, and some of the coaches actually predicted this,” Sandford said. “We're about where we thought we'd be with our enrollment and location, and that's fine. They're all pretty good teams, but we're improving and closing the gap day by day.”

The district schedule hasn't been finalized, but the Longhorns will face Bangs, Coleman, Tolar, Hamilton and Hico, in that order, leading up to the league opener.

In non-football sports, Early and Bangs will remain in the same league — District 6 — which will feature a total of eight teams as Cisco, Coleman, Comanche, Dublin, Eastland and Hamilton were added as well.

“This will present a different challenge with scheduling games because you have 14 district ball games,” Sandford said. “We're going to have to get pretty creative in terms of what we do for non-district and tournaments, but it should be a very competitive district.”