New district alignments present challenges, opportunities
Wood County coaches are looking with anticipation at their new district line-ups in various sports after the Feb. 3 UIL realignment process.
Mineola football is now in Region 2 District 5-3A Division 1 where they will take on Bonham, Commerce, Howe, Mount Vernon, Pottsboro, Rains and Winnsboro.
Mineola Football Coach Luke Blackwell is excited about the opportunity. “Realignment is always an exciting year, as you never know how it will work out. This year we were put into an 8-team district that is going to be very competitive,” Blackwell said. “I think most people will recognize Pottsboro for playing in the state championship game this past season, and we also got a familiar foe in Winnsboro who is tough every year. Overall, our coaches and kids are excited for the new challenge and for being able to go to work now with a clear understanding of what we are working toward!”
Bryan Oakes at Quitman feels his team is ready to compete in the new district.
“UIL Realignment brings familiarity for our athletes. Arp, Winona, Harmony, Grand Saline and Troup are returning from our previous district. In 2019 Quitman’s junior varsity Bulldogs finished 3-2 against these five teams and the two losses were by two scores or less. We are a new team that believes we can win against whomever we play,” Oakes noted. “This brings West Rusk into the picture and our guys understand that the Raiders play football like any other team we will face, with the intent to win. Our confidence in dealing with adversity has been tested this offseason and the coaching staff and myself believe the young men have handled it extremely well thus far.”
“As for the non-district schedule, we open with Cumby, followed by Scurry Rosser, Queen City and round it out with Hawkins. This should allow us to compete against some formidable opponents that will help us find out who the 2020 Bulldogs will be when we begin district 9 3A Div II play,” Oakes added. “This coaching staff, these athletes, this ISD and hopefully this community are ready to show the football world Quitman football is relevant.”
Alba-Golden’s Drew Webster is looking forward to playing in Class 2A. The Panthers move to Class 2A Region 2 District 6 Division 1 with Rivercrest, Celeste, Como-Pickton, Cooper, Honey Grove and Wolfe City.
“Alba Golden athletics and academics got good news on Monday with the realignment. It will be new for our kids and school as we have always been in a district with larger schools. We will play schools now in all sports and academics that are new for these high school kids,” Webster said. “But we know that with new districts and dropping classes come high expectations and living up to those expectations. We are excited for the kids and the new challenges that will come with the 2A alignment.”
In basketball, Quitman and Mineola will be in Class 3A District 13 with Harmony, Mount Pleasant Chapel Hill, Mount Vernon, Winnsboro and Winona.
Quitman boys Coach Jim Reid looks forward to the challenge. “It is definitely a change. We have always had Grand Saline and Edgewood in our district since I have been here. We are fairly familiar with Winnsboro, Winona and Harmony, but have not played any of them in a couple of years,” Reid said. “We have only played Mount Vernon once and never Chapel Hill since I have been at Quitman. I know that this will be a tough district and we will have to play extremely well to advance. We look forward to competing against some different teams in the next two seasons.”
Girls Coach Blake Hamrick moves himself into a very intense district.
“Obviously it’s no walk in the park; you pick up the last two state champions and add Winnsboro and their history to that. But we are excited for the opportunity to compete with some of the best in the state. We have a lot of work to do, but hopefully we can progress over the summer and give ourselves the opportunity to get in the playoffs. Regardless of who we are playing we will still have the same goal to be playing basketball for as long as we can,” Hamrick said.
Mineola girl’s Coach Brad Gibson simply said, “It will be one of the toughest girl’s basketball districts in the state in AAA.”
Quitman and Mineola volleyball teams will have the same district as basketball with the exception there is no Winnsboro volleyball.
Quitman’s volleyball Head Coach Ashlee Lingo is ready to get started.
“This district is very different from any other district we have had since I have been head coach. I know Mt. Vernon and Harmony are known for having strong programs in the past, so I expect the same for this next season,” Lingo explained. “We graduated a lot this season, so we will need to put in a lot of offseason work. I believe we have the talent and drive to compete and be successful in our new district.”
Alba-Golden will face Como-Pickton, Cooper, Cumby, Quinlan Boles and North Hopkins in Region 2 District 15 2A.
Alba-Golden volleyball will be in a district with Yantis, Greenvillle PTAA, Fruitvale, North Hopkins, Quinlan Boles and Cumby. Alba-Golden Head Volleyball Jamie Webster is excited for her team.
“I am always optimistic when it comes to my girls and regardless of the district I have high expectations. Yes we are dropping classifications and I anticipate us doing very well, but it will not be given to us. We still have to show up and compete! I am looking forward to the next two years and what is to come here at AG,” she said.