It was a big day for East Texas High School football teams who found out their future for the next two years when it comes to district races.
Thursday was the day that the UIL announced their realignment plans for the 2018-2020 school years,
The big change for the Pineywoods came with Lufkin moving to the new 5A Division I. It was a big enough announcement to make Coach Todd Quick come into the office despite being sick.
"I had to see what is going on," Quick said. "It is a big day. It is a huge day in the state of Texas just to see this. I wasn't going to miss it. If I would of had to roll in here, that is what I was going to do."
Lufkin will be in 8-5A with Tomball, Waller, Magnolia, Magnolia West, Willis, Caney Creek and College Station. The district will give the players games with teams many of them have never seen.
"They are seeing new faces, new places, new stadiums and new roads to get there," Quick said. "I think it is great for the kids. There is no reason to be nervous when they will tell you where you are going to play."
Caney Creek and Willis are the closest district games for the Panthers. The team will travel 93 miles to those two schools. The furthest game is roughly 140 miles away in Waller.
"Once you get into the playoffs you are going to have to travel," Quick said. "You have to get on and off the bus. We see it as an advantage to us. We are used to it. It is not anything different. Once you get to the playoffs we have seen it all year. So we use that as an advantage."
A run in the playoffs will not be easy. Quick and the Pack will first have to prove themselves in district when they face College Station who beat Aledo this past season to claim the 5A DII State Championship. Region 2 also has other serious contenders with Highland Park, the defending 5A DI State Champion.
"No matter what size school, region 2 is always good at playing and competing, so you know what you are going to get there," Quick said.
With alignment out of the way, Lufkin will now focus on getting ready for the fall. Their first test will be on Aug.31 when they face Longview.
"It has a lot of history and it will be a good battle," Quick said. "We will be able to see what we need to work on early and get it fixed before we get into the district race."
Another big change for the area came with Diboll moving down to 3A. They leave behind a familiar district that saw them matchup with rival Huntington and Jasper. Now Coach Blake Morrison will get the Lumberjacks ready to take on his new district foes; Coldspring-Oakhurst, Crockett, Elkhart, Franklin, Palestine Westwood and Trinity.
"From Franklin to Diboll is the longest distance and that is two and a half hours," Morrison said. "Everything else is inside an hour and a half so we will play some away games to get used to that travel and hopefully that will work for us."
Nacogdoches head Coach Bobby Reyes was concerned his team might get sent south to take on Huntsville and other teams in 5A DII action. Instead the team will be put in an 8-team all East Texas district which will include Hallsville, Jacksonville, Lindale, Longview Pine Tree, Marshall, Mount Pleasant and Whitehouse.
"I am happy we are not traveling," Reyes said. "This is good for us and the kids. "I was a coach at Marshall at one point and now their Offensive Line Coach used to be here. Hallsville, we have played them for years and those are good people over there. I think it is a good cohesive district. Everybody gets along."
Quick did confirm that Lufkin and Nacogdoches would play next season.