Realignment: Kilgore Prepares for ‘District of Doom’
In Feb. 2010, the Kilgore Bulldogs thought they had a good chance of dropping from Class 4A to Class 3A, much like their old district rivals of the 1980’s and 1990’s, Henderson and Carthage. Kilgore eventually made the move to 3A this past February with the UIL’s biennial realignment, which shipped the Bulldogs into the new District 16-3A a.k.a “The District of Doom 2.0,” as fans have deemed it.
“We were close the realignment before and we missed it by four students,” said Kilgore coach Mike Wood. “We were kind of expecting to drop to 3A (in February). A lot of the teams that we used to be in a district with years ago had dropped to 3A, so we thought down the road we’d probably be 3A.”
Two of those teams, the aforementioned rival Lions and Bulldogs, have had huge success since dropping to 3A, combining for four state championships in 12 3A seasons (three titles in 10 seasons for Carthage, one in two seasons for Henderson). Kilgore would be ecstatic to have that kind of success, especially considering that its move to 3A means the Bulldogs will play in a loaded district that is home to five state championships since 2004. Henderson joins perennial power Gilmer, defending 3A Division I champion Chapel Hill, 2011 3A Division II Region III semifinalist Bullard, Gladewater, and Spring Hill as Kilgore’s new league foes.
“It’s East Texas football. It doesn’t matter if it’s 5A or 4A or 3A. It’s some of the best football in the state,” said Wood, who led Kilgore to a 9-5 Class 4A Division II Region II championship appearance in 2011. “We got put into a district that has some of the best teams and coaches in the state year in and year out. There’s some teams in there that we’re familiar with, but you know one thing, you better be ready to play each week and hope that you can be one of the teams that has a chance to move on to the playoffs.”
The new 16-3A may be grueling for teams, but it promises to be fun for fans. The district will be a showcase of East Texas’ talent and depth at the 3A level, even if perennial power Carthage and Pittsburg moved to other districts. Wood said his players are excited about playing such a challenging league slate.
“Kids know kids. They know about those teams and those teams know about us,” Wood said. “For the fans and the teams it’s going to be a district that’s very competitive and very entertaining.”