By MICHAEL S. ADAMS
H-P Sports Writer
The buzz at Westwood High School after University Interscholastic League district realignment was at ease Thursday afternoon.
As announced Thursday by the UIL, Westwood will jump to District 19-3A with Fairfield, Groesbeck, Madisonville, Mexia and District 21-3A foe Palestine at the start of the 2006-07 school year.
WISD athletic director Shane Jones said while it is a change, Westwood is going into familiar territory.
“It’s back where we were before we went to the Lufkin area,” he said. “We have seen or played most of those teams in the past and the kids are familiar with each other, so there are no secrets.”
As for what realignment did to Westwood’s non-district scheduling, Jones said he had previously scheduled Teague, but the Lions being put into an eight-team district and forced Teague to cancel its game with Westwood.
Westwood filled the game with another familiar opponent — Crockett.
Tentatively, the Panthers have Bullard, Brownsboro, Chapel Hill and the Bulldogs on their non-district schedule and are currently looking to fill the void left by a cancellation from Kemp.
“For us it just didn’t feel right not having Crockett on the schedule,” Jones said. “Hopefully, I will have another game sealed up (Thursday).
“When you’re trying to fill a game this late in the season sometimes your only options are teams you don’t want to play or a team you are going to have to make a long trip to play.”
The main positive for Jones on the Panthers’ new district is having just six teams.
Jones said he had some speculation that the UIL would have placed Crockett and Rusk into the same district as Madisonville, Fairfield, Mexia, Groesbeck, Palestine and Westwood.
“First thing I did was count how many teams were in it,” he said. “Once I realized there were only six I was happy.
“By no means are we going down in the caliber of opponents. Basically, we are going from one competitive district into another.”
For boys’ head basketball coach David Reed, district realignment put Westwood into a district with traditional basketball powers Mexia, Fairfield and Madisonville.
Reed said there will be a lot of similarities in Westwood’s new district and the old one. He said he was happy with having six teams that will all be starting practice around the same time.
“We should fit right in the middle there,” Reed said. “The thing I like is there are no teams that will be playing basketball from fall until March. Every team plays football.
“As for basketball, I think this will be like District 21-3A where everyone beats everyone else, but Fairfield will be above and beyond the district next season.”
Volleyball head coach Alicia Troxtell is also optimistic about her team’s new district.
District 19-3A will feature four playoff teams from the 2005 volleyball season in Groesbeck, Madisonville, Palestine and Westwood.
Troxtell said familiarity will help her Lady Panthers through the transition.
“We have played most of the teams and seen the others so there won’t be any surprises for us come volleyball season,” she said. “We will have a longer district schedule and it will be a little more competitive, which are the two main changes.
“All the schools have good programs and I really don’t think there will be a weak team.”
Michael S. Adams may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
By MICHAEL S. ADAMS