Tigers in area loop; Thorndale moves up

Cameron slips down as expected; Milano stays put and Taylor moves away
BY BILL MARTIN Reporter Sports Editor

While Rockdale eased into the University Interscholastic League’s bi-annual realignment Monday like a warm bath, several area schools were hit in the face with ice cold water.

While Cameron slipped down to Class 2A as expected, in a bit of a surprise, Thorndale found itself rising to Class 2A and in the same basketball district as the Yoemen (see separate story below).

The Tigers will move into District 23-3A with a plethora of familiar faces like Caldwell and Navasota—which shared their district the past two seasons—and old friends Giddings, LaGrange and Smithville.

“In this area, you can’t hide from the good football teams,” said Rockdale Coach Jeff Miller. “We feel like we belong right there with them. You’re not going to have a pushover and I would be surprised if somebody goes undefeated.”

Giddings, LaGrange and Smithville have been in district configurations with Rockdale many times in the past, the last time in 2005.

Rockdale’s Jeff Miller (above), Milano’s Craig Jentsch (top right) and Thorndale’s Kade Burns (right) all face a diffeent set of challenges from the new UIL relignment which was revealed Monday morning. Rockdale’s Jeff Miller (above), Milano’s Craig Jentsch (top right) and Thorndale’s Kade Burns (right) all face a diffeent set of challenges from the new UIL relignment which was revealed Monday morning. Smithville is the lone team in the new district that did not make the playoffs last season in football.

UIL split one powerhouse district— just to create another powerhouse district.

Giddings, La Grange and Smithville come over from the former 25-3A bloodbath in Region IV.

During the past four years, they combined for two state semifinal appearances, two more regional finals and two more regional semifinals.

Of these teams, they are 8-1 in bi-district over the past two years. That does not even factor in Liberty Hill’s back-to-back state championships as a member of Rockdale’s district for two seasons.

According to high school expert Carl Padilla, District 23-3A “is the toughest in the state”.

“I don’t know about toughest, but it definitely has the most parity,” Miller said.

The Tigers have been included in a district with Caldwell for 40 years; with Giddings 18 years; with Smithville for 10 and with LaGrange for four.

One-hundred years ago, Rockdale played its very first football game against Giddings, winning 6-0.

The UIL made sure their would be no byes this time around, which was the case for District 25-3A the past two seasons.

The enrollment cutoff numbers for Class 3A were 430-989.

Cameron, which has appeared in a district with Rockdale for 50 years, returns to Class 2A and was paired with Florence, Hearne, Little River Academy, Marlin, McGregor and Troy in District 12-2A.

It will mark the first time since 1975 that Rockdale and Cameron have not been in the same classifi caztion.

The cutoff numbers for Class 2 A were 200 -429. Cameron turned in an enrollment of 425.

“I’m very excited about it,” said Cameron Coach Rick Rhoades, who is in his first year at the school. “I think it will be a very competitive district.”

However, Rhoades was quick to point out that dropping down a class doesn’t guarantee anything.

“Just because we are in 2A it isn’t like the Red Sea to the playoffs for us,” he said. “There’s good news and bad news in this. With only two teams getting in the playoffs, we can’t afford to stub out toe.”

Cameron has not made the playoffs in the past two years.

Taylor remained in Class 3A after losing 61 students, but was shipped off west and remained in District 25-3A, but now with Burnet, Lampasas (which dropped down from 4A), Liberty Hill, Llano and Salado (which moved up from 2A for the first time).

District 25-3A is in Region IV.

“I was happier with this alignment,” said Taylor Coach Rick Cobia, whose team went 7-13 in the past two seasons with just two district wins. “The travel will be easier for our teams and it will be nice to play different teams. We’ve had success against these teams in my tenure at Taylor.”

Old District 25-3A mate Madisonville, also headed east and is included in District 20-3A with Fairfield, Groesbeck, Mexia, Palestine and Palestine Westwood—a group they were in previously.

Neighbor Lexington slides into District 12-2A in Division II along with Thorndale, Franklin, Rogers, Jarrell, Bruceville-Eddy and Rosebud-Lott.

Rockdale will need to schedule five non-district games and Miller had already penciled in several teams before the realignment.

Rockdale will open with Austin Eastside Memorial, followed by Salado, Cameron, Liberty Hill and Madisonville.

The Tigers have their open date on Oct. 1, the week before district play opens.L

ow down

As had been speculated, Class 2A and A school have been divided into Division I and Division II prior to the postseason in football. A key component in the new 2A and A football puzzle is that instead of three teams advancing to the playoffs, just the top two teams will go. In basketball, three teams per district will be sent to the postseason. The enrollment number cutoff of stu- dents between Divisions I and II in Class 2A was 293.5. Thorndale turned in 201. The cutoff to be to be considered a Class A school was 199 students.


In somewhat of a surprise, Thorndale has been placed in Class 2A Division II from its Class A spot. For football, they are in Region 3, Division II, District 12-2A along with Bruceville Eddy, Franklin, Jarrell, Lexington, Rogers and Rosebud-Lott. Jarrell is the only team in the new district that didn’t qualify for the postseason. Rogers was the only team to get a bi-district win.

Thorndale head football coach and boys athletic director Kade Burns said the district had prepared to go either Class A Division I or Class 2A.

“With the classes divided up, you never really know so we prepared for both,” Burns said. “Our kids are excited to face a new set of opponents.”

Thorndale will have to travel a little further for their 12-2A schedule.

“It’s not as bad as we anticipated,” Burns said. “There are some 2A and A teams that will have to drive 250 to play a district game.”

The Bulldogs have faced a few of their new district opponents in pre-district action before so they are not completely unfamiliar with their new surroundings.

“There are three teams we don’t know a lot about and don’t compete against,” Burns said. “We’ll get some film on them and be prepared when the time comes.”

The Bulldogs won’t look too far to prepare for their two scrimmages and four pre-distr ict games. Burns said his team will scrimmage old district opponents Granger and Bartlett. Thorndale has scheduled Hamilton, Thrall, Florence and Bremond for its non-district games.

For basketball, where the Bulldogs had won the Class A Division I titles in 2007 and 2008, Thorndale was placed in Region IV, District 27 along with fellow Milam County school Cameron Yoe, Florence, Jarrell, Lago Vista, Lexington, Little River Academy and Rogers. Thorndale had previously been in Class 2A from 1996-2001.

“This is a quality district with talented teams. Our kids will be ready to compete,” Burns said. “We will go out and do our job and not worry about who is on the other side of the court or sideline.”


Milano came out as the winner of Milam County in the realignment process as they are in Class A Division II in football and Division I for basketball. For football, the Eagles are in Region IV, District 13 w ith regulars Bartlett, Granger and Holland, along with old foe Burton and new football team Snook. It will be the first season for Snook to play a varsity schedule. Bartlett, who was an area finalist in 2009, is the only returning playoff team. The enrollment cutoff for Division I and II in Class A was 150.5 students. Milano turned in 139.5.

The Eagles will have to travel a little further with the additions of Burton and Snook to the schedule, but that is not what has Milano head football coach Craig Jentsch concerned.

“There is the same amount of teams in our district, but one less going to the playoff,” Jentsch said. Of his district opponents, Jentsch added that he looks for Bartlett to be fast and athletic and that Burton will be a lot like them. He looks for Granger and Holland to always be competitive, but knows nothing about Snook as he had not seen them play before.

Jentsch said he is still ironing out the details of his pre-district schedule but plans to mix a few things up. The Eagles hope to play Waco-Texas Christian Academy, Iola and Giddings State School, along with Alpha/Omega Academy out of Huntsville and Chilton. Jentsch said he was hoping to play old district foes Thrall or Thorndale, but things just didn’t work out.

“We were going to play Thorndale if Chilton was in our district,” Jentsch said. “He was my back up.” The Eagles will not play the Pirates in the last pre-district game.

Milano will scrimmage Somerville, but the opponent for the second scrimmage is still up in the air, Jentsch said.

Old district opponents for the Eagles, Thorndale (see above) and Thrall are out. Thrall is in District 12, Division I in Class A. They are joined by Iola, Normangee, Somerville and Moody.

For basketball, Milano is in Division I, District 27 with Bartlett, Granger, Holland, Thrall and Georgetown Gateway. Gateway is a charter school that just opened up this school year.

Burton and Snook will play basketball in Division I, District 26 along with Iola, Mumford, Normangee and Somerville.


Milam County’s only other high school, Buckholts, will stay playing in Six-Man football. They are in Division II and will be joined in District 16 with Oglesby, Star and Calvert (who was moved down from Division I Six-Man).
Aug. 27 Austin Eastside Memorial
Sept. 3 Salado
Sept. 10 Cameron
Sept. 17 Liberty Hill
Sept. 24 Madisonville
Oct. 1 Open date
District: Giddings, LaGrange, Smithville,
Navasota (dates and times to
be determined).

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