Garrison’s run to the 2011 Class A Division I state semifinals came less than two months before the Bulldogs found out they’d be ditching 1A ball for a move back to Class 2A.

UIL biennial realignment sent Garrison to the new District 10-2A Division II, where the Bulldogs must battle the likes of perennial regional contender Arp and recent regular playoff participants West Rusk (four trips in four years) and Frankston (three trips in five years). Garrison joins Deweyville as the smallest 2A schools in the state with identical 201 enrollment figures.

“We will definitely be at a numbers disadvantage by being the smallest 2A in the state,” said first-year Garrison coach Craig Barker, “but our tough non-district schedule will prepare us for our district.”

Garrison isn’t a stranger to 2A football. The Bulldogs were a wildly successful 2A program in the early 2000’s, going 58-14 from 2001-05. That five-year stretch saw Garrison win at least 10 games every year, including a 16-0 season when the Bulldogs claimed the 2A Division II championship with a 27-0 win against Bangs. Garrison also reached the 2A D-II state final in 2001, losing 41-35 to Celina to finish 12-4.

Barker has experience with a team that has changed classifications during his tenure. Barker served as Henderson’s offensive coordinator when the Lions dropped from Class 4A to Class 3A for the 2010 season, which ended in Henderson’s first football state championship in school history.

Barker said Garrison’s expectations are high, regardless of classification.

“We just want to push our kids to get better every day they are here,” he said. “We have high expectations for our coaches and players. Those expectations are what makes Garrison such a great place to coach. We will use those expectations to push us to get where we need to be.”