UIL district changes pit Lions against powerhouse teams
By LPR Staff
Every two years, the University Interscholastic League re-evaluates the populations and locations of Texas schools in an effort to make sure that sporting and academic competition remains fair and even. This year’s redistricting, announced on Monday, could have profound consequences for the Lions and the Lady Lions in the 20
10-2011 school year.
When the dust settled, Lockhart remained a Class 4-A district. However, some of the district’s standard opponents, such as the Del Valle Cardinals and the Elgin Wildcats have fallen off the schedule, to be replaced by such teams as the Alamo Heights Mules and, most notably, the Smithson Valley Rangers.
As of Monday, Region 4, District 27-4A is now comprised of: the Hays Rebels, the Lehman Lobos, the Lockhart Lions, the New Braunfels Canyon Cougars, the Schertz Clemens Buffaloes, the Mules and the Rangers.
According to LISD Athletic Director Melinda Kirst, the redistricting makes Lockhart arguably the smallest school in the district, with the lowest student population. Smithson Valley, the largest, was classified as a 5A school last year, and slipped below the 4A cutoff by only a handful of students.
“The biggest thing this means is that our kids are going to have to compete on a higher level,” Kirst said. “But that will also be good for us, because when you’re competing at a higher level, you develop and improve at a higher level.”
Kirst suggested that Lockhart ISD students may have developed a certain level of comfort over the last few years, playing against comparable school districts with comparable programs. Still, she said, the LISD coaching staff sees the redistricting as a positive thing that will be good for the students.
“It might be discouraging at first, because there are some teams that are powerhouse teams that we aren’t used to competing against,” she said. “But every program has its period of adjustment, and I really think we are going to come out of this with a much stronger program.”
One potential problem Kirst said she spent a portion of Monday morning dealing with was the scheduling of the non-district games, in particular a contest with Elgin, who currently holds the trophy for the “Barbecue Bowl” friendly rivalry cooked up by the Lockhart and Elgin Chambers of Commerce last season.
“We did everything we could do, but we weren’t able to schedule a game with Elgin, so we won’t have a Barbecue Bowl next season,” she said. “I guess we’re going to have to let Elgin hang on to that trophy for a while, until we are able to get back together.
On the gridiron, the Lions ended last season with a 5-6 record, making a playoff bid for a repeat at the bi-district championship. Although the team was knocked out in the first round of the playoffs, they finished the season ranked 157th in Region III.
The coming season’s schedule will once again include the Lehman Lobos, who finished last season 5-5, and ranked 186th in Region III, as well as longtime powerhouse rival the Hays Rebels, who closed last season 4-7 after a rocky pre-district season, but ranked 124th in Region III.
New Braunfels Canyon, Schertz Clemens and Alamo Heights are all crossing over from Region IV, where they saw successful seasons last year.
Of the three, the Cougars ranked lowest in their region, completing the season after the first round of the playoffs with a 3-7 record. They ranked 68th in Region IV.
The Buffaloes of Clemens powered their way into the second round of the playoffs, closing the season at 7-4, and ranked 44th.
Alamo Heights will be the team to watch next year. Surviving through three levels of playoff action, the Mules closed the season ranked eighth in Region IV, withy a 10-5 season record.
Finally, the Smithson Valley Rangers, also a Region IV team, but in the 5A class, will be a tough hurdle for the Lions to leap. They also closed the season in the first week of the playoffs, taken down by Roosevelt with a narrow 24-20 score. Their final season record was 6-4, and they ranked 22nd in the region.
Apart from potential struggles on the football field, Kirst said coaches are somewhat concerned about other programs, including volleyball, basketball and softball, all events where the newly-aligned district prove to be ultra-competitive. However, she expressed confidence that the Lion and Lady Lion athletes are up for the challenge of playing in a championship district.