Now that the new UIL realignment has been released and we know who will be in the district for the upcoming two school years it is time to see what that means for the programs moving forward.
Cross Country looks to continue to truck right along. With Coaches Chelsy and Kelly Lipsey the cross country program has continued reaching for new heights year after year. As more of an individual sport you are not running against others so much as against yourself, trying to improve with each meet irregardless of what everyone else does. The true test for Ballinger will be the Regional competition and beyond.
For football there are many changes to look forward to in and out of district. For the last couple of years the district schedule for Ballinger has been very top and bottom heavy without much in the middle. This led to issues rolling into the playoffs against teams that were more battle tested. Coach Chuck Lipsey looks to have remedied some of that problem.
Game 1: vs Jim Ned
Ballinger will start the year off with a bang facing the Jim Ned Indians, a team the Bearcats have scrimmaged the past two years. Jim Ned is coming off a playoff year where they finished 4th in 3A D1 District 3, but most impressively played the Wall Hawks very well in a 14-7 defeat. This will be a tough opening matchup for both teams that could go either way.
Game 2: vs Breckenridge
The 2nd of three 3A D1 District 3 opponents for Ballinger is the Buckaroos. Breckenridge is coming off a tough season from a year ago with their only victory against the Early Longhorns. Breckenridge failed to score 200 points on the year a season ago compared with a high quality Bearcats attack that scored 401 with much of that coming in the first half of games. The Buckaroos will likely be better than a season ago, but Ballinger is returning so many players from an 8-win team this looks like it will be tilted in the Bearcats favor.
Game 3: vs Colorado City
Colorado City is the lone returning team from Ballingers pre-district schedule from the last two years. Ballinger manhandled Colorado City 42-14 last year, but is only one season removed from being defeated by the Wolves 42-34. Colorado City dropped down to 2A after redistricting, but don’t expect that to affect their effort level. They are a well coached team and it will be a good early season test for Ballinger.
Game 4: vs Clyde:
Here is where the schedule stiffens for Ballinger. The last of the 3A D1 District 3 opponents for Ballinger, Clyde finished only behind Wall and Eastland in their district. Ballinger last played the Bulldogs in 2016 and 2017, but were defeated both times 58-7 and 66-21.
Game 5: vs Llano
Seeing a 4A team on the schedule would have been nice, but we have to settle for Llano, who dropped to the 3A D1 level this round of redistricting. Llano finished in 4th place in 4A D2 District 13, but impressively advanced to the Playoff 2nd round after knocking off #1 Bi-district seed Devine. This will definitely be a tough matchup for Ballinger heading into their district schedule.
District games are in alphabetical order.
Game 6: vs Bangs
One of Ballingers remaining district foes from the last two seasons Bangs has been defeated by Ballinger each of the last two years. It cannot be argued, however, that the Dragons are on the way up and will be gunning for a district title. Much like Anson a year ago, this is a game where the opposing team has the atheletes to score some points if the Bearcats come into the game lacking even a little focus. This will be a pivotal matchup for the district race and how things play out.
Game 7: vs Brady
These two teams are no strangers. After playing a pre-district game the last two years that went down to the wire now there is the added motivation of a possible district title and playoff seeding implications. Expect nothing less than the Bulldogs best effort in this game no matter what the teams records are to this point. Ballinger vs Brady has and always will be a knock-down, drag-out fight.
Game 8: vs Ingram Moore
Ingram Moore is a relative unknown to Ballinger. Closer to San Antonio than it is to Ballinger the Warriors and Bearcats do not have a history of playing each other like most every other team on the schedule. Last season the Warriors placed 6th in a district which also included Brady and Sonora and scored just 164 points.
Game 9: vs Grape Creek
Another returning district opponent are the Eagles. Grape Creek suffered through a difficult season a year ago. Going 1-9 their only win was against 2A Rocksprings.
Game 10: vs Sonora
Sonora, like Brady, is a longtime opponent of Ballinger with over 40 games played. Sonora has been down, by their standards, the last couple of season yet still have six 10-win seasons in the last nine years. An opponent not to be taken lightly the Broncos have the athletes to make this a shootout. Recent history does not side with Ballinger in this matchup either. The Bearcats have not defeated Sonora since 2008 and have lost 8 straight contests by an average score of 46-14.
From top to bottom the Bearcats look to have a much more difficult schedule than the past two seasons. It is not as top heavy in district play, as there is no dominant Cisco-type team, but it is also not as bottom heavy. Early estimates have Ballinger, Brady, Bangs and Sonora looking like the favorites for the four playoff spots as all three reached the playoffs a season ago, but the order will have to be determined on the field.
In contrast to football redistricting gives basketball, softball and baseball a much tougher road. On top of having to deal with perennial powerhouse Wall, the Ballinger student-athletes now have a district champion boys and girls basketball squad coming in Jim Ned they will also have a district champion baseball and softball squad coming in from Clyde. Nothing is going to be given in this district as making a playoff spot will be a battle to the end.
Much like the team sports, individual sports, as well as track and field just got much harder as well. Whatever flaws there are in team sports has not affected teams such as Grape Creek and Merkel when it comes to these. The next two years will look to put our student athletes in Ballinger to the test, mentally and physically