Monday, February 19, 2018

ET Football: No surprises in realignment for Lobos; Tentative schedule set

By Hayden Henry
Feb. 1, 2018 at 5 p.m.

Longview vs Lufkin, on Saturday December 9, 2017, at SFA's Homer Bryce Stadium in Nacogdoches. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

There weren't too many surprises for Longview when the University Interscholastic League released the biennial realignment for the 2018-20 seasons.

What awaited the Lobos on Thursday morning were some familiar faces.

Longview will join Tyler Lee, Rockwall, Rockwall-Heath, Mesquite Horn, Mesquite and North Mesquite in District 11-6A with the lone change from the current alignment being John Tyler dropping to 5A, Division I.

"We knew it was a high possibility that we would be in an odd-number district with John Tyler dropping down just looking at the lay of the land, so to speak," Longview head coach John King said. "We weren't really surprised when everything came out."

Being an odd-numbered team district left Longview and the rest of the 11-6A coaches looking to find an open date, different from the current cycle when the entire league was off on the same date.

"That was the biggest thing but we were able to get that done because all of the coaches from our district were in Birdville (Thursday)," King said. "Our entire district got thrown a curveball after we all thought we had a Week 4 game but that fell through and we scrambled from there."

The seven-team district forced all seven to add a fourth non-district game and the Lobos went back to familiar faces with Lufkin, Marshall and John Tyler filling out the first three weeks of the schedule.

"We had spoken with those teams when the numbers came out, knowing that Lufkin and John Tyler were dropping," King said. "We pursued one another about non-district games and, if you look at the games we've had with all three, why not play those guys?

"It's good competition, it's local and it takes care of your football program from middle school to high school and all of those games."

After searching for a fourth and final opponent, Longview and Ruston (La.) were able to work the logistics out to fill up the schedule. The Bearcats are coached by former Lobo assistant and Gladewater head coach Jerrod Baugh.

"We've had some good games against Ruston and it's been a while since we've played them," King said. "They're a well-coached and respected program.

"It'll be a good final test fo r us before beginning district the next week."

Longview will scrimmage Texas High on Aug. 24 with a site to be determined.

The Lobos will open the season against Lufkin, a rematch of the state quarterfinals from 2017 and eighth meeting between the two schools since 2014, on Aug. 31 with the location still to be determined.

Longview will visit Marshall on Sept. 7 for the 108th-straight meeting between the two teams before hosting John Tyler on Sept. 14.

Then it's a trip across the border to meet the Bearcats, who enter off an 8-3 season in Louisiana's largest classification, on Sept. 21. Ruston fell in the second round of the playoffs, 23-21, in 2017 to state finalist Hahnville.

Longview's 11-6A schedule is tentatively set as follows:

Sept. 28: At Rockwall

Oct. 5: Open

Oct. 12: Mesquite Horn

Oct. 19: At Rockwall-Heath

Oct. 26: North Mesquite

Nov. 2: At Tyler Lee

Nov. 9: Mesquite

The biggest change this cycle for Longview would come in the first round of the playoffs, where 11-6A will meet 12-6A, highlighted by Temple and Waco Midway, in bi-district action.

"It's going to be another tough run through 11-6A with a lot of improved teams and teams with a lot coming back," King said. "It's a tough district and, if you're lucky enough to get out, a tough draw in the first round.

"No matter who we're playing, it's time to keep working."

Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: @hayden_h



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