The biggest story on UIL realignment day has to be the return of the Lufkin Panthers to East Texas football. For the past decade, the Panthers spent district play traveling towards Houston or Bryan/College Station. Today, the Pack were sent back to East Texas.
The saving grace on this day is a cell phone. Coaches are on it as soon as the packets are released, trying to fill up their schedules and get non-district games.
"It kind of reminded me of when I was 13 years old, and looking on the television at the New York Stock Exchange," John Tyler head coach Ricklan Holmes said. "Everybody is scrambling around, throwing paper around." Nacogdoches head coach Bobby Reyes added, "Its fun because its different, but when you can't control it, you don't worry about it." "I was sitting down with my pen and paper and had everything ready to go and everybody is standing up, I'm like uh oh this isn't going to be anything like I thought, " Whitehouse head coach Adam Cook said.
For those three coaches though, realignment brought little chaos. An eight team league including the likes of Lufkin, Nacogdoches, and John Tyler made for an exciting day.
"A little bit of that old 12-5A district feeling again, " Holmes said. "That rough and tumble deal." Lufkin head coach Todd Quick added, "We respect them and respect what they do and how they play. But you don't have to like them and they don't like us. It's a good thing, its going to be competitive."
So tightly contested, everyone of the four playoff spots out of district 16-5A will be well earned.
"For a team like Lufkin, yeah they got to be licking their chops coming in, but they also know its not going to an easy road because these other teams are going to battle you, " Cook said. Quick added, "We are all vying for that playoff spot and seeding when you start talking about who you are playing in the next round so I think the crowds there are really going to explode."
Reyes ended by saying, "Having eight teams it toughens it up simply because of number wise, but you know in East Texas you have to play every week."