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Recreation  Killeen Daily Herald | Sunday, February 23, 2014 BUy this photo at Jaime Villanueva | Herald Shoemaker’s Ziere Banner is brought down by Ellison’s Reginald Ford during a game in November at Leo Buckley Stadium. Shoemaker took a gigantic leap last year, earning the program’s first playoff berth since 2008. Area high school teams rack up accomplishments New coaches join local prep programs By Clay Whittington Killeen Daily Herald For years, Shoemaker’s football team was easy to defeat. In 2013, the Grey Wolves elevated into the district’s elite. After suffering consecutive winless seasons followed by a 3-17 combined record over the next two seasons, Shoemaker took a gigantic leap last year, going 7-4 and earn- ing the program’s first playoff berth since 2008. It was a tremendous turnaround few saw coming. Having lost 27 consecutive games at one point, even the Grey Wolves’ victories before 2013 were nothing to boast about, having twice defeated Ellison, which is in the midst of a 30-game losing streak, and Mexico product Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon. It all changed during head coach Chan- non Hall’s third season. The Grey Wolves won five of their seven District 8-5A games, sporting the district’s second-best defense and its most prolific dual-threat quarter- back in Ziere Banner, who ranked in the top three in passing and rushing. Although the Grey Wolves were perhaps the biggest surprise of the year, they were not the area’s lone highlight as multiple athletes and program’s delivered memo- rable moments. While Ellison’s football team struggled, the school’s basketball teams thrived with the Lady Eagles producing a school-record 32 wins en route to their second district championship in three years — a feat they improved on by going 14-0 in district dur- ing the current season. The Eagles had an equally impressive season, winning the district championship to clinch their 19th consecutive playoff appearance. At Salado, the athletic program was the recipient of the prestigious Class 2A Lone Star Cup, becoming just the third school in the classification to receive the award twice after also earning it in 2008. On its way to the award, the boys cross country team placed second at the state meet, both basketball teams reached the playoffs and both golf teams earned state medals as the girls won their sixth state championship and the boys finished third. Later in the year, the Eagles baseball team advanced to the state semifinals. Copperas Cove’s volleyball team con- tinued its supremacy winning a second , consecutive district championship, losing only once in District 8-5A play to Midway — a defeat the Lady Bulldawgs avenged in a title-clinching tiebreaker. On the track, the Bulldawgs’ Cory Scott delivered one of the best individual years of any athlete, winning gold in the Class 5A high jump at the UIL State Track & Field Championships after breaking his own school record just weeks prior. In basketball, Scott, who was named the district’s offensive MVP helped guide the , Bulldawgs back to the postseason for the first time five seasons, and his efforts in both sports resulted in him being named Athlete of the Year. PLEASE SEE High school,  By Jordan Mason Killeen Daily Herald BUy this photo at marianne Gish | Herald Copperas Cove’s Derrick Giles runs against Killeen’s Matthew Ballard in a game at Hood Stadium. Cove will continue its rivalry with Killeen ISD high schools in District 12-6A starting this fall. UIL realigns districts for 2014-2016 By Albert Alvarado Smaller schools The other big change during this round of realignment involved Salado, as the AUSTIN — In Texas, high school foot- Eagles jumped up from District 13-2A, ball is practically a religion. And every Division I to District 11-4A, Division II. other February brings a holiday like no Salado will be grouped with Caldwell, Gid- other as the University Interscholastic dings, La Grange and Smithville in the League unveils realigned districts. new district. “Realignment is kind of like Christmas “We definitely have our work cut out for morning, you can’t wait to open that pres- us, but we’re excited because we want to ent,” Harker Heights head football coach compete at a high level. So we’re excited Jerry Edwards said. “Just to find out what about that,” Salado head football coach district you’re going to be in the next two Brent Graham said. years.” In basketball, Salado will be in District This month, UIL released its realigned 25-4A with Burnet, Lampasas, Liberty districts for prep sports during the 2014- Hill, Llano and Taylor. 2015 and 2015-2016 academic years. Gatesville and Lampasas’ football teams The big change for this round of go from in District 8-3A to District 13-4A, realignment was the addition of Class Division I. Burnet also joins the new dis- 6A, after UIL put all six-man football into trict along with China Spring, Robinson Class 1A, bumping the current 1A enroll- and Waco La Vega. ment numbers up to Class 2A, and the New Florence athletic director and head current Class 2A classification numbers football coach Joey McQueen has a tough became Class 3A, etc. draw with the Buffaloes moving from Temple will leave District 8-5A to join 17- District 13-2A, Division I to the new 10-3A, 5A and the remaining 8-5A teams, includ- Division I. ing all four Killeen Independent School “We’re in for a challenge, and we’re District high schools and Copperas Cove, ready to step up,” McQueen said. will be in the new District 12-6A. The Buffaloes will play Class 2A, Divi- “We pretty much thought it was going to sion II state champion Cameron Yoe, be like it turned out to be,” Copperas Cove Central Texas power Lago Vista, Little head coach Jack Welch said. “The only River-Academy Rockdale and Troy , . thing we were kind of surprised about is On the basketball side, Florence is that we were put into Region II instead of grouped in District 25-3A with Blanco, Region I.” Comfort, Georgetown Gateway College During the last round of realignment, Prep, Ingram Moore, Jarrell and Lago teams from 8-5A matched up with 7-5A Vista. powers like DeSoto and Class 5A, Division Lometa will be in District 11-1A, Divi- II state champion Cedar Hill in the bi-dis- sion I with regular rivals Santa Anna trict playoffs. The 12-6A playoff qualifiers and Zephyr. Evant will join the district to will meet teams in District 11-6A: Garland, round out the four-team field. Garland Lakeview Centennial, Garland In basketball, Lometa will be grouped Naaman Forest, Rowlett, Sachse, North with Cherokee, Cranfills Gap, Evant, Garland, Rockwall and Tyler Lee. Jonesboro and Oglesby . Killeen Daily Herald The Texas high school sports land- scape is shaped by football, and 2013 was defined by turnover on the gridiron for area teams. Ellison and Harker Heights high schools in the Killeen Independent School District as well as Lampasas and Salado high schools, en- Edwards tered the 2013 season under first-year football coaches. And by the end of the year, Florence High School also hired a new coach. But the coach who with the most success in his inaugural season calls the hardwood home. Gregory Shoemaker boys basket- ball coach Emund Prichett, hired in May had his team , in a race for the district title, and the Grey Wolves are one of the hottest teams in District 8-5A. Shoemaker finished a Prichett game behind Heights for the best record in 8-5A and won 10 straight district games, the longest such streak in 8-5A this season. While wins were in short supply there’s hope of a , bright future for the new Emerson football coaches in District 8-5A. Under head coach Jerry Edwards, the Heights football team was one game away from a playoff berth in 2013 despite a 2-8 record. Ellison is looking for its first win since 2010, but Graham head coach Trent Gregory nearly guided the Eagles to an upset of eventual district champion Waco Midway in his first season at the helm. Meanwhile, Brian Emer- son led Class 3A Lampasas to a 61-56 win against peren- McQueen nial power Brownwood in his first season as the Badgers’ head coach. Lampasas finished the season 3-7. In a 1-9 season under Brent Graham, Salado averaged a shade under 28 points per game, and the explosive Eagle of- fense topped 30 points four times, includ- ing a 67-point explosion against Lorena. District-mate Florence finished the season 1-9 under Paul Smith and will look to benefit from the return of a local legend in 2014. In December, Florence hired former Lampasas head coach Joey McQueen to lead the Buffalo football program. McQueen helped Lampasas go from winless in 2007-2008 to district champions in 2011.