SAME DISTRICT, FRESH LOOK: Reigning champ Temple to welcome Midway, Hutto, Weiss in realigned 12-6A
FULL SPEED AHEAD: Senior-to-be receiver/quarterback/safety Mikal Harrison-Pilot and the Temple Wildcats will defend their District 12-6A football championship in 2022 against returning league opponents Bryan, Copperas Cove and Harker Heights and new district foes Waco Midway, Hutto and Pflugerville Weiss. The Wildcats defeated Hutto 60-53 in non-district action last September. (File photo by Mike Lefner, Temple ISD/Special to TempleBeltonSports.com)
By GREG WILLE
The Temple Wildcats have enjoyed a very successful run in District 12-6A football, winning 15 consecutive games and three straight championships, the last two outright.
In the University Interscholastic League’s biennial reclassification and realignment released Thursday, Temple again was placed in 12-6A for the 2022 and 2023 seasons.
However, the district will feature a fresh look as Waco Midway, Hutto and Pflugerville Weiss are set to join 12-6A holdovers Temple, Harker Heights, Copperas Cove and Bryan in what will be a seven-team district.
That district setup also applies to basketball and volleyball, with other sports’ 2022-23 and 2023-24 district assignments to be announced this spring.
Four schools are leaving what was an eight-member 12-6A during the 2020 and 2021 football seasons as they drop into Class 5A: Belton in Division II and Killeen, Killeen Ellison and Killeen Shoemaker in Division I.
Weiss went 10-2 during the 2021 football season, going 7-0 in District 11-5A Division I before the Wolves’ 41-31 area-round playoff loss to Manvel.
While Weiss will be a first-time opponent for Temple, the Wildcats have some recent history with both Midway and Hutto.
Temple is 0-6 against nemesis Midway in a series that began in 2012. The Panthers defeated the Wildcats as district opponents in 2012, 2013, 2018 and 2019 – they shared the 12-6A championship with 7-1 records in 2019 – and in non-district matchups in 2016 and 2017. However, Midway’s Panthers struggled to a combined 4-16 record the last two seasons while competing in rugged 11-6A.
Temple is 3-0 against Hutto, beating the Hippos in District 17-5A duels in 2014 and 2015 and adding a 60-53 non-district home victory last September after the teams’ scheduled 2020 game was canceled.
Entering his seventh season at the helm, Wildcats head coach Scott Stewart reported Thursday that Temple’s four-game non-district schedule will include 6A McKinney, 6A Willis, 5A Division I College Station and 6A Arlington Martin.
Temple is slated to open its 2022 season against McKinney on Friday, Aug. 26 at McKinney ISD Stadium. The Wildcats then will host Willis, play at College Station and host Martin to conclude non-district play.
Temple and College Station met in scrimmages from 2018-21 after the Cougars edged the Wildcats for the 18-5A Division I championship in 2016 and 2017. Temple lost 43-25 to non-district foe Martin at Wildcat Stadium in 2020. The Wildcats defeated Willis 62-6 in 2015 in a 5A Division I bi-district playoff game in Huntsville.
Although the 12-6A schedule cannot become official until Feb. 24 because of possible appeals to the UIL, Temple is slated to kick off 12-6A play at Bryan for the second straight season. The Wildcats’ district home opener is against Weiss, followed by a matchup at Midway and a home date with Hutto.
Temple then will battle Harker Heights at Killeen’s Leo Buckley Stadium. The Knights led the Wildcats by 20 points in 2020 and by 21 last season before Temple charged back to win 38-36 and 44-34, respectively.
The Wildcats will play nine consecutive games before finally getting an open date in Week 10 and concluding the regular season at home against Copperas Cove.
Rival Belton is not on Temple’s football schedule for the first time since the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
The potential opponents for 12-6A teams in the bi-district playoff round are 11-6A members Cedar Hill, Dallas Skyline, DeSoto, Duncanville, Mansfield, Mansfield Lake Ridge, Mansfield Legacy and Waxahachie.
Because Midway and Hutto have the two largest enrollments in 12-6A, they can advance only to the Division I playoffs. Weiss and Harker Heights own the two smallest enrollments and only can compete in the Division II bracket. The “swing schools” are Bryan with the third-largest enrollment, Temple at fourth and Copperas Cove at fifth.
Duncanville and Skyline have 11-6A’s two largest enrollments are can only compete in the D-I playoffs, while Mansfield and Legacy have the two smallest enrollments and only can advance in D-II. The third- through sixth-largest enrollments in 11-6A are Waxahachie, DeSoto, Cedar Hill and Lake Ridge, respectively.
Temple hosted Waxahachie in 6A Division II bi-district playoff games at Wildcat Stadium in the last two seasons, defeating the Indians 38-0 in 2020 and 28-14 last November. Rockwall-Heath eliminated Temple in the area round in both years.