EARLY — With a new man at the helm, the Early Longhorns will see a lot of familiar faces on the football field during the 2020-21, 2021-22 school years as the UIL unveiled its biennial realignment Monday morning.
The Longhorns remain in District 3-3A Division I along with Breckenridge, Clyde, Jim Ned and Wall. The only new addition is San Angelo TLCA, which is taking the place of Eastland, which dipped into the 3A Division II ranks.
“It wasn't a big surprise,” said Early head coach Daniel Price. “If you look at all the names people were putting out there, the Padilla Poll, a lot of those guys had us in our same district guessing on who the other team was going to be.”
Early will be seeking its first postseason appearance since 2008 under first-year head coach Price, the Longhorns' former defensive coordinator who was elevated to head coach when Blake Sandford announced his retirement from coaching shortly after the conclusion of the season.
The Longhorns are coming off a 3-7 campaign in 2019 and a 4-6 record in 2018, but last won a district encounter on Oct. 13, 2017.
Wall (12-1), Clyde (7-4) and Jim Ned (7-4) were playoff teams last season, while the lone win for Breckenridge (1-9) came at Early's expense. TLCA finished 1-9 as well and was outscored 280-0 over its last four games after notching its lone victory over Grape Creek, 8-6.
“We've played Breck, Clyde, Jim Ned and Wall the last two years,” Price said. “We played their sub-varsities and had some success so we know what's coming in those spots. TLCA is a team we haven't seen, but hopefully we can find a win there. I'm pretty excited about where we're at.”
Early will begin its first season under Price's tutelage against Bangs, Tolar, Comanche, Merkel and Grape Creek.
“I'm extremely excited about getting the opportunity to lead the program and hopefully leave my mark,” Price said. “This is the first time I get to do this so there'll be a learning curve I'm sure, but this is what I've worked for my whole career to be at this point where I have an opportunity to be a head football coach. My excitement level's through the roof.”
In sports other than football, Early will compete in District 8-3A, located in Region I, along with Bangs, Brock, Comanche, Dublin, Eastland, Millsap and Peaster.