The Brownwood Lions will remain in District 5-4A Division I for football during the 2020-21, 2021-22 school years, but the league got considerably stronger as the UIL released its biennial realignment Monday.
The three holdovers from the current District 5-4A Division I remained together — Brownwood, Stephenville and La Vega. Joining the fray are Alvarado, Midlothian Heritage and Waxahachie Life, as former members Gatesville and China Spring dropped to 4A Division II.
Alvarado, which the Lions defeated 37-35 in the area round of the playoffs this past season, moves over from District 8. Midlothian Heritage was a member of Region III the past two seasons in District 9, where Waxahachie Life also resided.
All six schools reached the postseason last year and combined for a record of 56-21. La Vega — the 2018 state champion that reached the state final again in 2019 — tallied a 14-2 record while the Lions owned the second-best record at 11-2. Alvarado went 9-3, Midlothian Heritage owned a 9-5 mark, Waxahachie Life finished 7-4 and Stephenville posted a 6-5 record.
“I guess I made someone at the UIL mad because I think it just got a little tougher than it was the last two years,” said Lions head football coach and athletic director Sammy Burnett. “I never would have thought we would have stayed in that district and they would have pulled in some teams from Region III to join us. I think it's going to be an even tougher district than we saw the last two years. We're going to have to continue to grind and work and grow the program, but we feel like we can play with those guys.”
Burnett thought the Lions had a chance to move to Region I, where Lake Worth is an unexpected member of the new District 4 along with Burkburnett, Decatur, Gainesville, Springtown and Wichita Falls Hirschi.
“I'm pretty surprised when you look at Lake Worth being in Region I when we could have moved that way and Lake Worth is right beside a lot of these other schools,” Burnett said, referring to District 5. “There's 19 teams in Region I and 27 in Region II and that's sort of dumbfounding.”
The change from a five-team to a six-team league aids the Lions in scheduling as they were not forced to find a late season opponent to face during their district bye. The difficulty of such had resulted in nine-game regular seasons in two of the last four years.
With the way the district fell, the Lions were also able to stick to their pre-district schedule for the most part. There was only one change to the schedule as Brownwood will open the season against Lampasas, Midland Greenwood, China Spring — in place of Graham — Burnet, and Abilene Wylie, in that order.
“The only thing that changed is we dropped Graham for China Spring because (Graham) was looking to get out,” Burnett said. “I figured it was better to get a solid game than worrying about whether Graham was going to drop us.”
The Lions' bye will fall in Week 6 followed by District 5-4A Division I action at Midlothian Heritage, at La Vega, home against Alvarado, at Waxahachie Life and home against Stephenville.
“It was an easy day to be honest, the easiest I've ever been a part of,” Burnett said. “We walked in, got the packet, looked and saw we were in a six-team district and we'd have a bye Week 6, so we didn't have to try and find any games. We were just shocked that we were put in that district.”
In all other sports, Brownwood will remain in Region I in the new District 6, which also includes current league foes Stephenville and Glen Rose, while Gatesville and Lampasas take the place of Godley and Mineral Wells.
Brownwood Lions 2020 Tentative Football Schedule
Week 1 Lampasas, TBD
Week 2 Midland Greenwood, TBD
Week 3 China Spring, TBD
Week 4 Burnet, TBD
Week 5 Abilene Wylie, TBD
Week 6 BYE
Week 7 at Midlothian Heritage*
Week 8 at Waco La Vega*
Week 9 vs. Alvarado*
Week 10 at Waxahachie Life*
Week 11 vs. Stephenville*
* District 5-4A Division I contest