Gainesville vs Van Alstyne

Gainesville and Van Alstyne met last season but now share a district. The Leopards will host the Panthers this fall in their final home game of the year.

The 2022 high school football season is a month and a half away, but it is never too early to look over the schedule.

This season is the first of a new two-year alignment cycle, meaning new districts for several teams. With that comes new opponents and new challenges as teams vie for district titles and playoff positioning.

Each team has 10 games on the schedule, but which are the most important?

Below is a look at Gainesville and area Class 2A schools. Part two of this breakdown will be published Friday.

Gainesville

This fall marks the beginning of a new era for Gainesville. Not only do the Leopards have a new coach in Neil Searcy, but they also will play in Class 4A Division 2 for the first time.

Gainesville opens the season in a unique way. Searcy’s debut will be Aug. 27 in a rare Saturday afternoon game at UT Arlington against Cedar Hill Trinity Leadership. After struggling the past two years, it will be important for the Leopards to start the season strong.

After a road trip to Vernon and back-to-back home games against 5A competition, Gainesville opens district play at home Sept. 23 against Sanger. After a road trip to district favorite Aubrey, the Leopards return home to face Farmersville. Wins in these first two home games would go a long way to getting Gainesville back into the playoffs.

Road trips to Bridgeport and Krum also figure to be important tests for Gainesville to end the season, along with a home date against Van Alstyne.

Lindsay

Lindsay is in a similar position to Gainesville. The Knights also have a new coach as they transition down to 2A Division 2.

Lindsay will have a chance to show whether it has progressed from last season in non-district play, especially in its home game against Callisburg. Like last season, district play opens at home against Collinsville.

The Pirates dominated the second half to win in comeback fashion last season, handing Lindsay its only district loss. Lindsay will need a better performance this year as the Knights enter a much tougher district.

Lindsay has won three-straight district titles, but this district will be much harder to win. The Knights have road games against Celeste and Santo with a home game against preseason No. 2 Muenster. These games will define the season.

Muenster

Muenster is also accustomed to winning district titles, and their preseason ranking suggests another should be forthcoming. Although there is no longer a team of Windthorst’s caliber in the way, there are several quality opponents the Hornets must beat. The games against Santo, Celeste and Lindsay are all on the road, so the Muenster will need several great performances to win another district title.

Despite no longer sharing a district, Muenster and No. 7 Windthorst will still face off. The Hornets play the Trojans on the road in non-district play Sept. 9 in a showdown between two of the state’s best.

Collinsville

Collinsville fell just short of the playoffs last season with a young team, but the path doesn’t get easier. After opening the season at rival Tioga in the Battle of the Bridge, the Pirates will navigate non-district play before a big district opener at Lindsay. The Pirates won this game last season, and doing so again would go a long way to returning to the postseason.

The Pirates must travel to Muenster, but they get Celeste and Santo at home. A win or two in these vital games could be all Collinsville needs.

Era

Era has made progress the past couple years, but a larger and deeper district could mask the Hornets’ improvement. Era hosts Chico on Sept. 30 in the first district home game and needs a strong performance to set the tone for a challenging district slate. An Oct. 14 home game against Collinsville could also be vital.

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