2018 will reignite FHS-Tivy rivalry
Gillespie County’s public schools will face off against familiar foes for the next two school years after the announcement of district realignment.
The University Interscholastic League released its tentative district alignments for 2018-2020 on Thursday, and both Fredericksburg High School and Harper High School will have new district opponents for football, basketball and volleyball.
FHS remains in District 14-4A DI for football, with Liberty Hill, Lampasas and Taylor replacing the outgoing schools of Boerne and Austin Eastside Memorial.
“I’m pleased with the alignment,” said Lance Moffett, Fredericksburg Independent School District athletic director and FHS head football coach. “I like it a lot … it’s a challenge but I feel like we’ll compete well. Our kids are familiar with all those teams.”
Canyon Lake and Taylor are holdovers from the 2016-2018 district alignment.
All districts are subject to an appeals process. District schedules and game contracts are not finalized until Feb. 21.
FHS remains in District 28-4A for volleyball and basketball, but adds Llano and Wimberley, and loses Hondo in the process. Canyon Lake, Boerne and Bandera return as the Billies’ district rivals.
Harper adds Center Point to a 14-2A DI district of Brackettville Brackett, Junction, Mason and Sabinal.
The Longhorns have the same basketball district, but a new set of volleyball opponents.
FHS has a tentative football schedule, pending appeals by schools in FHS’ district or from teams that share a district with the school’s other scheduled opponents.
Moffett is “cautiously optimistic” about his non-district opponents, all of which made the postseason in 2017.
FHS will renew its rivalry with the Kerrville Tivy Antlers, who the Billies haven’t faced in football since 2011, Moffett’s first year at the school.
Tivy went 10-3 and advanced to the Region IV-5A DII semifinals in 2017.
“It’s a big deal for our communities, for the old-timers, the alumni,” Moffett said. “I know that we’re going to play hard, get after it and do the best we can.”
Boerne might not be in FHS’ district for the next two seasons, but the Greyhounds and Billies will continue to play as non-district opponents in 2018 and 2019.
“I had us going south,” Moffett said. “I had no idea that they would split us from Boerne. We’re still going to get them. That was a natural thing. They expected to play us, so when we weren’t playing each other, that gave us an opportunity to play them in non-district.”
This will be the first time that Boerne and FHS will not share a football district since the Greyhounds resumed play in 2010.
San Antonio Sam Houston, Bastrop Cedar Creek and Wimberley make up the rest of FHS’ preliminary football schedule.
Sam Houston and Cedar Creek are both Class 5A teams.
District 14-4A DI has an even number of teams this time, leaving the members with a bye week outside of the district season.
Liberty Hill looks to be 14-4A DI’s powerhouse again. The Panthers won the district in 2014 and 2015, and has made the Region IV-4A DI final in two out of the last four seasons.
“I think that anybody that’s stuck with Liberty Hill isn’t happy about it,” Moffett said. “They’re a tradition-rich program that has a deep run in the playoffs every year. They have great facilities, great kids. They’re one of those schools that’s on the border of being 5A.”
Canyon Lake is the defending 14-4A DI champion. Taylor won it in 2016.
FHS went 2-2 against its prospective 14-4A DI opponents in 2017.
The Billies won games against Burnet (56-7) and Lampasas (27-13), and lost to Canyon Lake (53-35) and Taylor (35-12).
Future in 5A?
While Fredericksburg remains safe from the suburban expansion engulfing the Austin and San Antonio area, some of its Hill Country rivals might end up in a new classification soon.
Liberty Hill (1,122 students) and Boerne (1,099) were both 50 students or less away from a jump to Class 5A, which has a baseline enrollment figure of 1,150.
A jump up is not a concern for FHS at this moment. The school turned in a two-year enrollment average of 1,017 for the 2016-2018 school years.
Liberty Hill has the district’s largest enrollment.
“I can’t imagine that the next realignment, they stay down,” Moffett said. “You drive over there to Leander and all of those towns where they are, I can’t imagine that their growth (will keep them) from 5A.”
Canyon Lake (1,032) and Taylor (1,024) have enrollment numbers slightly higher than FHS.
Lampasas (1,008) and Burnet (921) have 14-4A DI’s lowest number.
Hill Country district
It looks like the Billies will cut down on travel times for volleyball and basketball during the next two school years.
“I like that travel,” said Tim Kaman, FHS’ head boys’ basketball coach. “We will not have any long nights with travel in this district. It will be tough, but we should be able to compete. The addition of Wimberley makes it tougher.”
The Fredericksburg-to-Hondo trip is 78 miles, which makes for a roughly 1-hour, 30-minute travel time.
The other five schools that comprise 28-4A are within about an hour’s drive from Fredericksburg.
“We’re going to save the district a significant amount of money,” Moffett said. “If you think about it, you go to every school. We’re going to all five of those schools. Instead of going to Hondo, we’re going to go to Wimberley and Llano. We’re all right here together.”
Just like football, the even number of teams eliminates mid-district bye weeks that leave coaches looking for a last-minute matchup.
Harper High School only faces major changes in one of its three realigned districts.
The school’s enrollment figure of 193 kept it within Class 2A’s range of 105-224 students.
“As always there are many changes across the state during realignment but we were not affected very much,” Harper head football coach Dusty Gibbs said. “We thought there was potential for our district to change and possibly make us go into (Region I-2A) but that did not happen.
“Our district remained the same except we added Center Point back into our district. They were with us two years ago but had dropped to Division II the previous realignment.”
The Longhorns are scheduled to play Christoval, San Saba, Ingram, Ozona and Menard during the non-district slate.
“The number one priority at these meetings is to have a first look at your new district, which can be an exciting time,” Gibbs said. “Also if you have scheduling holes to fill, you can quickly fill your pre-district schedule. It is a crazy day but probably one of the most anticipated days you have as a coach.”
Harper went 13-8 and made one playoff trip in the last two football seasons.
Basketball remains the same from the 2016-2018 alignment. Harper will play Center Point, Junction, Mason and San Saba.
The Ladyhorns’ volleyball district will have almost a completely different look.
Harper moves to District 29-2A, where the team will play Center Point, Junction, San Antonio Great Hearts Monte Vista North, San Antonio Lee Academy, San Antonio Stacey and Medina.
Center Point, Medina and Junction were in District 27-2A with Harper last season.
District 27-2A’s other teams — Leakey, Rocksprings and Utopia — also move to other districts.
Leakey and Utopia get 30-2A, and Rocksprings drops to Class 1A.