No big surprises but plenty of action at UIL realignment meeting

EDINBURG — One thing became obvious when the official 2016-18 University of Interscholastic League biennial realignment numbers were released Monday at the Region One Education Center: District 32-6A will be a real meat grinder, especially on the football field.

As expected, Brownsville Lopez and Veterans dropped down to Class 5A, and Weslaco and Weslaco East joined Harlingen, Harlingen South, San Benito, Los Fresnos, Rivera and Hanna to form what will arguably be the toughest league in the Valley starting this fall.

“It’s going to be tough, that’s for sure,” said Harlingen South head football coach Lanny Wilson. “However, we expected it to pan out like this, and I think since we’ve played both Weslaco and Weslaco East in non-district play the past couple of seasons, we know what we’re in for and we’re ready.”

Wilson said that the Hawks will play Edinburg North, PSJA and McAllen in non-district this season. The Hawks will also host Bird Bowl XXIV to open up district play in Week Five.

This past football season, Harlingen, Los Fresnos and San Benito all made the playoffs out of District 32-6A, while Weslaco and East qualified for the postseason out of District 31-6A. Moreover, Rivera is just a couple years removed from winning a share of the 32-6A crown back in 2014.

“We’re all really going to have to battle hard to earn a playoff spot starting next season,” said Harlingen head football coach Manny Gomez. “But I think it’s a great fit with Weslaco and East coming on board. They battle and compete, and that’s the kind of competition we want to surround ourselves with. It’s going to be fun.”

Gomez said that the Cards will open their non-district schedule at home against Mission Veterans, then take on Laredo United South on the road before wrapping up non-conference play in Week Three against San Antonio Reagan in a game to be played in either Corpus Christi, Kingsville or Calallen.

Harlingen and Weslaco have played some epic games the past couple of seasons. In 2014, the Cardinals beat the Panthers 30-29 in a Week Four non-district clash and then the Panthers returned the favor by winning a brutal 3-0 bi-district playoff contest.

San Benito and Weslaco East have also played in non-district action the past two seasons, with East winning in 2014 (42-14) and San Benito in 2015 (47-23).

The Greyhounds are playing Laredo United, San Antonio East Central and McAllen Memorial in non-district. The Battle of the Arroyo, which the ‘Hounds have won the past two seasons, will be played at Harlingen in Week 11.

Meanwhile, the battle between Weslaco and Weslaco East will be played in Week Five with the Wildcats being the home team.

There were no changes in the Valley’s 4A districts.

District 16-4A Division I remains La Feria, Hidalgo, Kingsville King, Grulla and Zapata. Meanwhile, Rio Hondo, Raymondville, Port Isabel, Progreso, Orange Grove and West Oso remain in District 16-4A Division II.

In District 16-3A Division I, Aransas Pass moved up to Class 4A and Santa Gertrudis Academy moved in to join Lyford, Santa Rosa, Bishop, Falfurrias and San Diego.

There was change in District 16-2A Division I as well. Corpus Christi London and Riviera dropped out and Freer was added to join La Villa, Santa Maria, Ben Bolt and Three Rivers.