While the University Interscholastic League has taken away half of the guesswork when it comes to realignment proceedings, there is still plenty of anticipation for the latest district reveal surrounding the 2014-16 academic years by the UIL at 9 a.m. Monday.
Schools will no longer have to worry about moving classifications on announcement day but the districts themselves remain unknown until this moment and there is always a worry or two about how officials could change their thinking about the placement of schools, and the corresponding moves, from two years prior.
“I never thought we’d be in the district we were in last time,” Pottsboro athletic director and head football coach Matt Poe said. “There could be some wrinkles.
As always, Sherman and Denison will remain at the mercy of the UIL’s discretion to send them in whatever direction they are needed.
“I know we’re not going north,” Denison athletic director and head football coach Chad Rogers said. “The only other thing I know is that Sherman and Denison will remain together. You try to figure it out and it’ll make your head hurt.”
Across the state, schools will be adjusting to a name change to all classifications. Six-man football will now be call Class 1A with each ascending classification simply adding a number to its current designation, culminating with Class 6A at the top.
For the first time in conducting realignment, the UIL announced the cutoff enrollments for each classification prior to releasing the new districts. In early December those numbers were known and there were few Texoma schools affected.
Bells is the only local program to see a switch in classification and the Panthers are headed down.
Bells turned in an enrollment of 210, which guaranteed them moving into what will be known going forward as 2A but has been classified as 1A. This is the first time Bells, which was 10 students below the cutoff number, has changed classifications since 1990, when it moved up from Class 1A.
Tom Bean almost joined Bells in a move down but stayed put by 10 students and is expected to stay with its current group of schools plus a newcomer to replace the departed Panthers.
The enrollment cutoffs are — 6A: 2,100 and above; 5A: 1,060-2,099; 4A: 465-1,059; 3A: 220-464; 2A: 105-219; 1A: 104.9 and below.
Neither the Bearcats nor Yellow Jackets were in danger of splitting districts for the first time in 20 years, although Denison is getting within range (150 students) from making a move.
The things that usually force a change in their direction is the domino effect by other schools. This year that includes Highland Park and Denton Guyer moving up in classification, McKinney moving down, a split by Rockwall ISD and both Greenville and Sulphur Springs coming dangerously close to dropping but ultimately staying put.
“The thing I noticed right away was McKinney not staying,” Sherman athletic director Tommy Hudspeth said. “Someone would have to drop out to keep it at eight.”
There is a good chance the rivals stay close to home for another two years but McKinney dropping must pair the Lions with McKinney North — meaning the current 13-4A would either be an odd-numbered nine-team district or either Greenville or Royse City would be shifted east to stay at the current number.
“I’m more concerned about a seven- or eight-team district,” Rogers said. “We could even be in a six-team district if they want.”
But it also means Sherman and Denison might find themselves headed to the west for a re-coupling with the Wichita Falls’ schools in Region I or trek back to the east with long trips to Texas High and Mount Pleasant returning to the schedule.
“I don’t think the UIL would do that,” Hudspeth said. “If we do get in a scramble, I’ve got the numbers ready to make some calls if we need to.”
Each of the last four realignments have seen the locals in a different direction. The last time Sherman and Denison stayed put for consecutive realignments was 2004 and 2006.
Another change going forward is the splitting of what is currently Class 3A for football before the playoffs, like 2A, 1A and six-man have been doing.
“I think it’s better when they split like this,” Melissa head coach Seth Stinton said. “We would have to play a school, in football, who can field a team with 60 students.”
The divisional cutoffs are as follows — 4A Division I: 686-1,059; 4A Division II: 465-685; 3A Division I: 315-464; 3A Division II: 220-314; 2A Division I: 158-219; 2A Division II: 105-157; 1A Division I: 55-104.9; 1A Division II: 54 and below.
Almost all of the area 3As, to be known as 4A, will be Division II schools. Anna, Melissa, Bonham and Celina could all end up in the same district. Gainesville will be in Division I, going over the cutoff by 24 students.
“I really hope there are no five-team districts. It really makes scheduling difficult. We’ve played Celina in the past and I’d like to keep playing them and there’s a chance they might be in our district,” Stinton said. “I hope we don’t go east again. That’s a long way to go.”
Outside of the move by Bells, very little movement is expected — or needed — for current 2A programs.
Howe will be shifting from Division I to Division II for football and with Bells’ departure could slide right into the void left in the current 7-2A (II) alignment of Tom Bean, Whitewright, S&S, Gunter and Leonard.
Both defending district champs Whitesboro and Pottsboro shouldn’t see much change to their Division I groups as they attempt to stay atop the standings. While Howe is leaving 6-2A (I), the district had seven teams so the current group could simply stay together.
“They could keep in the same but last time I figured we’d go west and be with Whitesboro,” Poe said. “At least you know what classification you’re in. It helps with scheduling and to ease some of the fears.”
For team sports other than football, the expectation is that Leonard or Gunter will fill Bells’ slot with a shift over from its current location in 12-2A.
Collinsville will drop to Division II and alter the area landscape in the area’s smallest 11-man football districts, including the potential to have all of the local Division I schools (Bells, Trenton, Blue Ridge, Wolfe City, Celeste and Honey Grove) end up in the same district.
Fannindel will move from Division I to Division II for six-man football after turning in an enrollment of 52, which was two below the cutoff for the Falcons to stay put.