GONZALES COUNTY — Last Thursday was the first step on the road to a state championship for the next two years with the University Interscholastic League (UIL) releasing realignment information for football, basketball and volleyball.
As soon as the clock struck 9 a.m., realignment packets were distributed and, as you can imagine, mayhem ensued.
“If you want to see a bunch of grown men acting like kindergarteners, cutting in line, pushing, shoving, just like kindergartners, then go to realignment,” Gonzales Athletic Director and head football coach Kodi Crane said. “It is a mix between that and the floor of the stock market exchange. It is the craziest day ever.”
Coaches scrambled to not only find out who they were playing, but then immediately start making contact with other coaches to schedule non-district games.
Since Crane came to Gonzales in 2014, the Apaches have been placed in six-team districts for football. This realignment, the Apaches football squad, moving back up to Class 4A, Division I, will be in a five-team district with Pleasanton, Beeville Jones, La Vernia and Boerne.
“Going in, you always know a five-team district is a possibility,” Crane noted. “When you have five teams, you got two games going and one open, so you draw numbers to see when your open week is. Our open week is right before our last game, that’s where we drew it. I would rather, obviously, it be a little earlier.”
The last time the Apaches were placed in a five-team district was during the 2006-08 realignment.
Gonzales immediately sought out a Week 6 opponent to fill out their football schedule for the next two seasons. Last week, Crane had an agreement with a coach, who backed off, but now this week the team found a Week 6 opponent. The Apaches are set to take on Mineral Wells at a neutral site. As of press time, the coaches were still negotiating the neutral site, though Waco was listed as a strong possibility.
Realignment went a bit smoother for Nixon-Smiley Athletic Director Carlton McKinney.
The Mustangs football team was placed in a similar district, with only one school change.
Skidmore-Tynan replaces Karnes City (who moved up to Class 3A, Division I) in a six-team district with Nixon-Smiley, Dilley, Natalia, Poth and Stockdale.
“That was a much easier process than in past years,” McKinney said. “We’re really pleased about that. We’re very familiar with them.”
The big change comes in basketball and volleyball, where the Mustangs are back in a six-team district, down from the highly competitive eight-team district they are currently in now. Nixon-Smiley breathed a sigh of relief as they found out they were placed in the smaller district with Karnes City, Luling, Poth, Stockdale and Yoakum in District 27-3A.
“Biggest thing is not being able to start the district until after the holiday break,” McKinney noted. Nixon-Smiley had to start their district season before the holiday break in the current format, which proved to be a problem, especially if their football team made it to playoffs. Middle school scheduling was an issue as well with travel time and having to schedule a certain amount of games. Now, McKinney has a much better gauge of traveling with this new district.
It should be noted that the current top four teams in the boys’ basketball district will not be in with Nixon-Smiley as Marion, UC Randolph, Schulenburg and Hallettsville move into eight-team districts of their own. McKinney did warn against the optimism, saying teams change year-to-year.
“You don’t know who is going to be one of the better teams or not,” McKinney said.
The Apaches saw some positives in their basketball and volleyball realignment as Gonzales was placed in District 30-4A with longtime rival Cuero, Geronimo Navarro, La Vernia, Pleasanton, Poteet and San Antonio Brooks Academy of Science & Engineering.
“When I saw [the realignment] I said, ‘I’m still scheduling Wimberley,’” Gonzales head boys’ basketball coach A.J. Irwin said.
“It has some things that are similar to our football district and that is La Vernia and Pleasanton,” Crane said. “It has some things from our old district with Navarro and La Vernia. And it has some things we want with Cuero. I like it.”
Crane did mention that although “there’s no way around it,” he preferred the years where the district teams lined up through all sports.
No decision has been made as of press time, however Poteet will be appealing its 2018-20 district for basketball/volleyball. The Aggies are trying to join District 29-4A, which includes Poteet’s opponents from football, who are Carrizo Springs, Crystal City, Devine, Hondo and Pearsall.
In Waelder, the Lady Wildcats are virtually guaranteed a playoff spot since Class 1A and 2A are combined during the district season, but then split off for the playoffs. Of the eight teams in district, Damon and Prairie Lea, as well as Waelder, are the only Class 1A teams. Each district sends three teams to the 1A playoffs, thus all three teams automatically make it to postseason play, with the winner of the three earning a bye in the bi-district round.
The basketball teams remain in District 30-1A with Dime Box, Fayetteville, Moulton, Prairie Lea and Round Top-Carmine, adding McDade to fill out the seven-team district.