REALIGNMENT ROUNDUP: Brownwood welcomes move to Region I in football

Mike Lee
Special to the Bulletin
Brownwood Lions outside receiver Thad Hinds celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter against Lampasas on Friday night at Gordon Wood Stadium.

Brownwood High School will move from Region II to Region I in Class 4A Division I football for the 2022 and 2023 seasons following Thursday’s release of the biennial UIL realignment of Texas public high schools.

Brownwood will join District 2-4A DI – a West Texas league with Andrews, Big Spring, Lubbock Estacado and San Angelo Lake View.

The Lions had been in Region II, which has produced the Class 4A DI state champion three of the last four years. Brownwood’s former Region II district produced two of those three state champions in Stephenville in 2021 and Waco La Vega in 2018. La Vega also was the state runner-up in 2019.

“We’re pleased with where we’re going,” said Sammy Burnett, Brownwood’s fourth-year head coach. “With where our program is and with the talent we have, the playing field is more level for us in Region I. Being in Region I gives us a chance to build a program against balanced opponents. It can give us a chance to go several rounds in the playoffs.

“There are good teams in Region I, but we just match up better with them than we do with the teams in Region II.”

In Brownwood's district last year, eventual state champion Stephenville, La Vega and Midlothian Heritage – which elevated to Class 5A – all were ranked in the top 10 during the season.

Burnett said Brownwood has tentative agreements for 2022 and 2023 to play nondistrict football games against Abilene Wylie, Marble Falls, Burnet, Glen Rose, Waco Connally and Stephenville. Brownwood and Stephenville have played 81 times.

Early quarterback Jaxyn Price looks for a receiver in the Longhorns' game against Jim Ned. Jim Ned won 46-14 on Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, at Longhorn Stadium in Early.

Meanwhile, Early and Bangs both dropped a level and will move into new districts.

Early, which is dropping from Class 3A Division I to DII in football, will be in District 2-3A DII with Ballinger, Brady, San Angelo Grape Creek, San Angelo TLCA and Wall, which also dropped from 3A DI.

“Dropping down to 3A DII (previously announced) was the big thing for us,” said Early head football coach Daniel Price, whose Longhorns won a playoff game last season in 3A DI. “Instead of being one of the smallest schools in Division I, we’re now one of the largest in DII. We’re with schools closer to our size, and that should make us more competitive.

“We’ll see a couple of familiar foes in Wall and TLCA, and we’ll see some teams we haven’t seen in a few years.”

Price said Early’s nondistrict schedule won’t be finalized until next week, but that it includes Brown County rival Bangs as well as Tolar.

Bangs already knew it was dropping from Class 3A DII to 2A DI in football. On Thursday, the Dragons were placed in the new seven-team District 5-2A with Coleman, De Leon, Goldthwaite, Hamilton, San Saba and Tolar.

“It’s going to be a very competitive district,” fourth-year Bangs football coach Kyle Maxfield said. “Just because you drop doesn’t mean your district is going to be any easier. Coleman and Tolar will probably be leading the pack, but it’s a quality district with quality coaches. We’ve got our work cut out for us.

“But it’ll be nice to play against schools with a similar enrollment. It should help us not just in football but in our other sports like volleyball, basketball and the spring sports. That will be refreshing.”

Maxfield said Bangs has tentative nondistrict games set up against Early, Comanche, Grape Creek and Merkel.

The members of the May High School football team pose for a photo after the Tigers beat Abbott in a UIL Class 1A Division I football state semifinal game Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Dublin, Texas.

In Class 1A (six-man) Division I, two-time defending state runner-up May remained in Region IV, but the Tigers only kept one of their former district opponents in Santa Anna. May was moved eastward into District 14-1A DI with perennial power Jonesboro, along with Lometa, Evant and Santa Anna. May has beaten Jonesboro in the playoffs the last two seasons.

“Jonesboro and Lometa both went two rounds in the playoffs last year,” longtime May football coach Craig Steele said. “There will be some interesting district matchups.

“I’m still trying to figure out how we can be 25 miles from Gorman and not even be in the same region with them. We’ll have more travel in our new district, but that’s the way it goes sometimes,” Steele said.

Zephyr dropped from 1A DI to DII, and the Bulldogs were placed in District 15-1A DII with Blanket, Gustine, Mullin and Sidney. That district will be mostly new for Blanket, with Sidney the only holdover from the Tigers’ previous district.

Brookesmith was moved into District 16-1A DII with perennial state power Richland Springs, Cherokee, Lohn and Rochelle.

Basketball realignment

Brownwood kept Stephenville and Glen Rose, lost Lampasas and Gatesville, and gained Graham and Mineral Wells in District 6-4A for basketball.

“We’ll mix it up and play a couple of new teams in district and see some new styles. I like that,” said Will Parker, the Brownwood boys’ first-year head coach. “I hope with our new district that we can get them to play us in junior high games. In our current district, we can’t get them to come out to Brownwood for junior high games.”

Brownwood girls’ coach Heather Hohertz said, “I was surprised that we kept Glen Rose. I figured they’d be going to Region II with the Fort Worth schools. But in 13 years (as head coach), I’ve learned not to be too surprised with realignment. I like our chances of being successful with Graham and Mineral Wells.”

Early will remain in a similar Class 3A district with Brock, Breckenridge, Comanche, Dublin, Eastland, Millsap and Peaster.

Bangs will join District 8-2A for basketball with Coleman, Colorado City, Miles, Roscoe and Winters.

May remained in District 13-1A with Baird, Eula, Cross Plains, Moran and Rising Star.

Zephyr and Blanket kept their same district, 18-1A, with Evant, Gustine, Mullin, Priddy and Sidney.

Brookesmith also kept its same basketball district, 17-1A, with Cherokee, Lohn, Lometa, Richland Springs and Rochelle.