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The Central Washington University football team runs onto the field at the end of halftime during a game against West Texas A&M on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018, at Tomlinson Stadium in Ellensburg, Wash. (Evan Abell, Yakima Herald-Republic)

YAKIMA, Wash. -- With the GNAC now down to four football-playing members, filling out an 11-game schedule presents some challenges.

That task got a little smoother this week when the GNAC and the Lone Star Conference announced an alliance for 2020 and 2021 that will feature 13 games between the conferences each of those seasons.

The GNAC has home-and-home conference pairings for six games a season, leaving five open dates to be filled. The LSC’s nine members play each other once for eight conference contests.

“GNAC and Lone Star teams have routinely faced each other in nonconference play over the years and this agreement takes the relationship to a new level,” Dr. Jim Gaudino, president of Central Washington University and chair of the GNAC CEO Board said in a release from the GNAC. “The agreement is unanimously supported by the GNAC presidents and athletic directors as a fiscally prudent approach to mitigating the nonconference scheduling challenges faced by teams in both conferences. We are appreciative of our Lone Star partners in seeing the value of this alliance.”

The pairings for each season have already been scheduled, with Central Washington getting two home-and-home dates. In 2020, Central will travel to Midwestern State on Oct. 3 and host Western New Mexico on Nov. 14, while in 2021, the Wildcats will host Midwestern State (Oct. 2) and go to Western New Mexico (Nov. 13).

Central is no stranger to LSC opponents the past two seasons.

Last season, the Wildcats hosted West Texas A&M, while in 2017, they opened the season at Texas A&M-Kingsville and ended their year by losing to Texas A&M-Commerce in the playoffs.

Both conferences are part of the NCAA Division II Super Region 4, with that region’s rankings used to determine which teams qualify for the playoffs. This alliance will create more head-to-head comparisons which should help region voters rank teams more accurately.