Bengals decide not to drop football, building schedule for 2016
AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Brooks Academy.
Following a season fraught with growing pains, Brooks Academy felt compelled to assess its football future.
After looking at the situation from both sides of the coin and seeking advice, Bengals head coach/athletic director Eric Hernandez found a way for his team to continue. Brooks Academy will continue to compete in UIL Class 3A in the 2016 season as an independent.
“I wanted to make sure the kids didn’t lose that opportunity,” Hernandez said. “Those juniors that played for me this year are going to be seniors. I didn’t want to pull the rug out from under them.”
The Bengals finished 1-8 overall last season, defeating Lee Academy for the second-consecutive season. Afterward, injuries began to mount forcing Brooks to forfeit a non-district game Oct. 2 to Cotulla. The Bengals were able to preserve the District 26-3A portion of their season, but they finished it 0-4 and were outscored 281-6 by opponents in the highly competitive district.
That led to offseason soul searching as to whether the risk of continuing the program in terms of potential injuries might outweigh the possible rewards. Hernandez admits he considered dropping the football.
The enthusiasm of his players ultimately made him abandon that option, but without the luxury of a district schedule in place the future still was hazy.
“My only concern was injuries,” Hernandez said, explaining his rationale to consider eliminating the sport. “I didn’t want kids to be risking injury.”
While Brooks Academy still will need to follow all UIL regulations, but it can’t play for district championships or qualify for the postseason. Not being affiliated with a district keeps it out of the playoff system.
Hernandez doesn’t expect to schedule any scrimmages for 2016. He attended the realignment meeting at the Region IV Education Service Center to get advice from UIL director of compliance, eligibility and education Mark Cousins – and then to try to put together a 2016 schedule.
The Bengals now have five scheduled games with UIL opponents (Runge, Center Point, St. Gerard, Charlotte and Leakey) and hopes to add some with TAPPS or TCAL
“We probably won’t have 10 games,” Hernandez said. “This past year, when we got to Week 8, we were just surviving. I’m still proud of our school, that we still have a football team, we just don’t belong to a district.”
Being outside of a district affiliation has allowed Hernandez to put together a schedule that features teams closer to the Bengals’ ability.
“I went in there with zero games and I came out with five,” Hernandez said. “If we only pick up one or two more, it was better than my expectations.
“Next year, we’ll see what the man upstairs has planned for us. We’re excited.”