AUSTIN (KXAN) — The LBJ Jaguars football team made its first ever trip to the state championship game last year only to lose to Stephenville 38-21 for the Class 4A Division 1 title. This year, however, they’re moving up.

The Jags opted to play in Class 5A at the Division 2 level for the next two seasons in the latest state realignment, and they’re set on gaining some respect after being out of the preseason Top 10 rankings for 5A-D2 by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football.

“I saw they ranked us at No. 12, and that’s just disrespectful,” said Jags senior running back Sedrick Alexander. “We’re going to show them this year that we’ll be No. 1.”

Alexander, who is committed to Vanderbilt, had a season to remember in 2021. He helped take the Jags to the state title game with 2,204 rushing yards with 28 touchdowns, averaging nearly 150 yards per game. As one of the team leaders, Alexander understands what it takes to build a team. He said he’s helping the younger guys get integrated into the team’s high-octane spread offense, and most importantly, making sure they stay academically eligible.

“Our goal for this year is to win state,” he said. “We’re preparing all our young players to be successful in the classroom so they can play.”

The move to the higher classification works for the Jags on multiple levels, head coach Jahmal Fenner said.

“It gives up an opportunity to compete at a higher level, and we won’t have to travel as far,” Fenner said. “Football is football. We feel like we have an identity and a system in place, and we feel good about our chances in 5A.”

LBJ is the newcomer in District 12 which includes all Austin-based high schools. Last year in 4A, LBJ had to travel to Burnet and Fredericksburg for district games. They also had five non-district games to fill out their schedule, and this year they’ll have only two. They’ll travel up the road to take on Weiss in the season opener Sept. 2, then host Dallas Parish Episcopal the following week. Parish Episcopal is the No. 1-ranked private school in Texas by DCTF, and LBJ took them down on the road last season in a 44-42 thriller.

During LBJ’s historic run last year, Fenner made it a point to get the community involved in the program, and the community responded in a big way. There was a huge send-off for the team before they left for Arlington last year, and this year, parents were at the first practice Monday helping out.

“Everybody’s excited, coming off of last year, everybody wants to see what the Jags will be about this year,” Fenner said. “It’s been a beautiful thing over this time, this spring, the love and the support. Seeing parents and fans here on Day 1, that’s what it’s all about.”