Sports and Outdoors
Normal Lake Level is 322.00 feet
above Mean Sea Level.
Mabank back in 4A after
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–The schools along U.S. Highway 175 knew that grouping was too close in travel terms and too closely matched in competition to last.
As expected, Mabank bounced back up to Class 4A and the District 13-3A teams were scattered when the University Interscholastic League announced its biennial realignment Friday.
Both Mabank and Eustace were “on the bubble” in terms of enrollment, and both got bad news in the realignment – Mabank’s 984 students was four over the 4A bottom cutoff and Eustace’s 432 students was two over the 3A bottom cutoff.
Mabank was placed in the new District 15-4A, along with Forney, Lancaster, Mesquite Poteet, Red Oak, Terrell and West Mesquite.
The Panthers faced Lancaster and Red Oak during their last stint in 4A, and Panther head coach Jimmy Cantrell said he expects his team to be competitive.
“We’re a better football team than we were then – of course, so are those teams,” Cantrell said.
Eustace stayed with Kemp (which hadn’t expected to move up or down in classification) in the new District 14-3A, which got a couple of teams from the old District 14-3A, Canton and Van, along with Wills Point and Mineola.
Wills Point, Kemp and Eustace were together one cycle ago in District 12-3A.
“I took this job as a small 3A school. I knew what I was getting into,” Eustace head coach Doug Wendel said Monday. “That said, I think we can compete at the 3A level.”
In his first year at the helm, Wendel’s Bulldogs were battling for a playoff spot in the final game of the season. That represented a big leap forward for the Eustace program, which hasn’t seen much football success for many years.
The best part is, at times, the Bulldogs started an all-sophomore backfield.
Wendel said Eustace won’t be facing as big a disparity in enrollments as it has the last couple of years.
“If you look at the numbers, the disparity is less than a 2-1 ratio,” Wendel said. “We were in against schools with more than 930 students, and now our biggest (opposing) school will be around 800, so we’ve got nothing to complain about.”
For Mabank, there is a plus – four of the district’s seven teams will be going to the playoffs under the new bracket formula.
Cantrell was upbeat about the Panthers’ new district, because it could have been much, much worse.
Mabank could have been slotted with schools to the southwest, moving back in with Ennis and Corsicana again – that should bring a shudder to fans who remember the last time the Panthers were in 4A.
Also, Mabank could have been aligned to the east, and placed with a killer district featuring Whitehouse, Sulphur Springs, Texarkana Texas High and the Longview Lobos, who dropped to 4A after winning the Tyler-area 5A district.
“These schools are closer – Red Oak is the farthest trip,” Cantrell said. Both Red Oak and West Mesquite made the playoffs last fall in their respective districts.
As a 4A school, the Panthers also get to hold spring training, although Cantrell isn’t sure that will happen this spring.
“I can’t commit to it, because we have coaches leaving,” he said.
Offensive coordinator David Collins is going to Garland High School, and Cantrell said it’s possible a couple of other coaches may follow him.
“I don’t feel it would be an advantage to do that (spring practice) without an offensive coordinator in place,” Cantrell said.
Kemp head coach Greg Anderson noted the new District 14-3A travel won’t be that arduous, as Mineola would be the longest trip, and he also pointed out the district school’s enrollments are fairly close.
Anderson came to Kemp from Sabine, which faced the same numbers problem as Eustace before finally dropping down to 2A in Friday’s realignment.
“Wills Point is up there in the 800 range, but both Van and Canton are mid-500 or less, and the rest of us are in the mid-400s,” Anderson said. “I think that makes it more competitive across the board, in both boys and girls sports.”
Looking forward, Anderson said Van has traditionally had a strong football program.
“Wills Point is going to be as athletic as anybody, and Mineola is coming off a playoff year (third behind Gilmer and Spring Hill),” Anderson said.
“Doug has brought the program around at Eustace,” he added. “To me, it’s one of those districts where you can line up Friday night and anybody can beat anybody.”
Anderson pointed out the new district features a wide range of offenses, ranging from the wide-open spread at Canton and Wills Point, to the option running game at Eustace and traditional I-back power running at Mineola and Van (although Van used the spread this past season), while the Yellowjackets use a variety of offensive sets.
“My first thought is that Wills Point is basically the same as Kaufman,” Wendel said. “They played them to 10-7. My guess is that they’ll have good talent and numbers.
“Mineola has taken steps in the right direction, and Greg (Anderson) is headed in the right direction at Kemp, developing an overall program,” Wendel added.
“I’ve not seen anything on Canton, but they beat Kaufman and Crandall,” he said. “Van is losing their running back (top recruit and 3A Player of the Year Jermie Calhoun), but they have a solid program. It’s going to be fun.”
There wasn’t a lot of change coming out of the realignment for Malakoff, Trinidad or Cross Roads.
Trinidad remained in six-man Division I, switching to District 11. The Trojans’ district lost just one school, Dallas Gateway, which moved up to District 14-1A, and gained two new schools, Oakwood (which dropped from District 21-1A) and Apple Springs (up from Division II District 12).
“It’s always exciting to pick up different teams,” Trinidad head coach Kevin Ray said. “We’re very excited about the challenge of next season after losing a solid core of players.”
Malakoff rejoined district foes Kerens, Blooming Grove, Corsicana Mildred and Rice in the new District 14-2A, which welcomed Edgewood and Scurry-Rosser from District 12-2A. Frankston departed to the new District 19-2A, while Italy dropped down to District 21-1A.
“I am really excited about the new district,” Malakoff head coach Ronny Reed said. “Scurry won’t have the skill kids that Italy had, and I don’t think Edgewood will be as physical as Frankston.
“It’s good to get new teams and fun to play new teams,” Reed added. “You don’t know what to expect until you see them on film. A lot of the time, change gets everybody excited again.”
Cross Roads changed from District 21-1A to District 20-1A, but remained in the same district with state champion Alto, along with Cushing, Cayuga, Grapeland, Overton and Price Carlisle.
Panthers blow out
Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Kaufman’s win gave them a home-and-home split with
Ferris. The Panthers already have a home-and-home split with Kaufman,
and were scheduled to host Ferris Tuesday.
Lane, Murray win at Van weight