Realignment forces big moves for county teams

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Quitman and Alba-Golden football fans need to get their GPS systems and Texas road maps ready for the next two years as they follow their respective sports teams. The Panthers and the Bulldogs were moved to Region 3 and will be in District 10 3A DII with teams from Harmony, Winona, Troup, Arp, Frankston and Grand Saline.

Alba-Golden girls basketball Coach Blake Hamrick said he’s happy with the changes made for next season as they’ve made travel times more reasonable for teams in their district.

“I think it turned out really good. In terms of travel our district has some of the shortest travel distances in the state in 3A. Plus all the games and teams should be competitive,” Hamrick said over the weekend.

The UIL football gods did not exactly smile on Mineola however as the Yellowjackets will remain in Region 2, Class 3A Division I, but move east in football, taking on Gladewater, Sabine, Tatum, White Oak, West Rusk and Winnsboro in the new District 8-3A DI.

Mineola Athletic Director Luke Blackwell who is also Head Football Coach said, “I expect that our new district is going to be very tough and competitive. This alignment saw a couple of tough 4A schools come down a classification in Gladewater and Tatum. We also have West Rusk who has been very successful as well the last few years, along with White Oak and Sabine who were in our previous alignment. From top to bottom, I expect that this will be one of the better districts in class 3A. Our kids and coaches are already working hard to prepare ourselves to compete! We are excited for the new challenge.”

Mineola and Winnsboro will continue their age-old Wood County rivalry, but gone are Mt. Vernon, Farmersville, Commerce, Grand Saline and Quitman.

Mineola boys basketball Coach Ryan Steadman who’s been at the helm for over 10 seasons said he believes the change is both good and bad for Mineola sports teams.

“(The realignment is) great for basketball but maybe tougher for football. As Tatum, Gladewater and West Rusk are all really good plus White Oak is good. The top basketball contenders should be us (Mineola) and Edgewood as the two top contending teams,” Steadman said.

Mineola’s girls basketball Coach Tony Riley also chimed in with his thoughts on UIL’s changes.

“I think that (our district) just got a little bit more competitive (for girls basketball) with Lone Oak and Rains coming in and losing two of our weaker opponents of the district. With that being said I still feel we will compete and be contenders for the district title,” Riley said last week.

Gladewater and Tatum are moving down from Class 4A Division II where both have been successful. West Rusk moves up from Class 3A, Division II, where the Raiders were a solid playoff team for the past few years.

For Quitman, the move down in divisions leaves them with only Grand Saline as a former district foe. The Bulldogs will still have Harmony on the schedule, but it will be a district game this time around. The Panthers will face Winona and Harmony from their previous district. The new district rekindles another Wood County rivalry between Alba-Golden and Quitman.

Quitman Athletic Director Bryan Oakes who is also Head Football Coach is happy to be where the Bulldogs landed.

“Realignment should be a holiday in Texas. I have not, until this year, had the opportunity to attend this event. I would have to say that at 9:01 a.m. the rooms turn into what it looks like on NFL draft day or the stock market floor, it is insane,” Oakes explained. “I really like the district UIL has placed us in, District 10-3A DII. We have been paired with teams that are comparable to us in athleticism and number of athletes. Harmony, I would say, is the clear favorite, although it is competitive from top to bottom. I really look forward to competing against these school districts, many of the opposing coaches I have known for some time. I like the opportunity it possesses for the Quitman Bulldogs to be competitive.”

 Basketball and volleyball realignments will bring Alba-Golden, Mineola and Quitman together in Region 2 District 12-3A with Edgewood, Grand Saline, Lone Oak and Rains.

Quitman volleyball Coach Ashlee Lingo is looking forward to the new district.

“It has been a while since we have had Lone Oak or Rains in our district,” Lingo said. “I am excited about our new district! I believe it will be competitive, but should be fun! I think our girls will be challenged and able to compete.”

The Class A Yantis Owls go from a small five-team district to an expansive eight team group with teams in far North Texas. The Owl’s new Region 3 District 23 make up will have them playing Miller Grove, Dodd City, Ector, Fruitvale, Fanindel, Roxton and Savoy.

Yantis Athletic Director Mike McMinnwho is also Head Basketball Coach looked at the new realignment saying, “Guess it beats going to Louisiana!  It really cut down on our pre-district games.  On the girl’s side, Dodd City should be the team to beat,” McMinn noted. “I don’t know how many kids Ector or Miller Grove are losing, but I suspect they will be pretty good.  We are losing four seniors, two who have started since ninth grade. The younger kids are going to have to step up.”

All changes will go in to effect in August when the new school year begins.

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