Paradise Athletic Director Danny Neighbors has spent hours since October trying to figure out where his Panthers will land in the newest round of realignment by the University Interscholastic League (UIL).
Thursday at 9 a.m. Neighbors and the rest of coaches around Texas will get their answers.
“It’s huge,” Neighbors said. “It’s like Christmas for us coaches.”
The new alignments will take effect in August and will be in place until June 2014.
“It’s a big day,” said Bridgeport Athletic Director Danny Henson said. “It determines for the next two years your district in every sport and who you have to compete against for district titles and playoff spots.”
While it’s a big day and everyone has their guesses about where they will end up, no one knows for sure until the UIL makes its announcement.
“We’ve all been thinking about it,” said Decatur Athletic Director Kyle Story. “But there’s no telling which direction we’ll go. We have to wait ’til it comes out.”
The crooked lines and shapes that districts take have everyone guessing about the UIL’s methodology.
“I think they throw darts at a board, and that’s where you end up,” said Chico Athletic Director Stephen Carter.
But there is a science to the task, which began in October when more than 1,300 UIL member schools submitted their number of students to the agency. The enrollments are put in a list from largest to smallest. UIL Athletic Director Mark Cousins said that first list is without the names of the schools.
The agency then determines the conference line working from the top for Class 5A. The state’s largest classification can have a range of between 220 and 245 schools. After determining the cutoff for 5A, the UIL works down through the other classifications, including the separate divisions of 2A and A. Once those limits are set, schools are grouped together by geography.
“It’s always a tremendous task, with more than 1,300 schools and the size of the state,” Cousins said. “With the state not being square, there are also geographic difficulties. We try to put together the best map we can. There’s no way to make everyone happy.”
With the ongoing crunch in school finances and rising travel costs, Cousins said the agency tries to be sensitive to concerns about excessive travel.
“That’s our primary consideration each time,” he said.
Many schools in Class 2A and A found themselves on the road more for football after the 2010 realignment with the introduction of split division districts. The system remains in place with the larger half of schools in the two classes going into Division I and the rest into Division II. While increasing travel, many area coaches feel the system is fair.
“I like it,” said Alvord Athletic Director Curtis Enis. “With us sitting here barely in 2A, it’s tough to go ask us to play Boyd and Bowie. We’re at 200, and they are at 400. Their talent pool is a lot bigger than ours.”
Split divisions are only for football. For the rest of the sports, the schools in the two smallest classes find themselves in different districts.
“I don’t understand why we split football and not the rest of the sports,” Neighbors said.
Here’s a breakdown of where people feel they may be Thursday.
BRIDGEPORT and DECATUR
With the close proximity and long-standing rivalry, Bridgeport and Decatur have usually stayed together during the realignment process. Both anticipate to remain partners in their new Class 3A home.
“I expect us and Bridgeport to stay together,” Story said.
In October, Bridgeport turned in an enrollment of 628. Decatur was at 883. Both were well within the Class 3A range of 430 to 989 in 2010.
While Decatur and Bridgeport expect to stay together, they have no feel for who will join them in their new league. But as history has shown him, Henson anticipates the two moving into a new district with new bunkmates.
“Every year since I’ve been here, we’ve been in a brand new district,” Henson said. “We’ve never taken another team and added to a district. Quite often it’s been us and Decatur going into a district with three to four teams that are used to playing each other.”
For the past two years, the two have traveled south to play Lake Worth, Castleberry and Mineral Wells in football. This year in all other sports, Burleson Centennial was added to the mix.
Bridgeport and Decatur expect to be impacted by changes around them, with Bowie dropping to 2A, Springtown falling to 3A and Krum elevating to 3A.
“With Bowie dropping down, it increases the odds of us going northwest to play Burkburnett, [Wichita Falls] Hirschi, Iowa Park and Vernon,” Henson said.
The schools were in that district with the Wichita Falls area schools in 2008-10.
Story said Springtown could keep the two heading south.
“It makes sense for us to stay where we are and add Springtown,” he said.
BOYD and PARADISE
With the division split in Class 2A in 2010, Boyd and Paradise remained together but lost many of their previous Wise County rivals.
The two expect to remain in Class 2A Division II, but guesses of where they will end up are far-ranging.
“We could go west with Eastland, Breckenridge and Dublin, or we could end up east with Pilot Point, Ponder and Callisburg,” Neighbors said. “There’s really one of four ways we could go.”
Boyd turned in 385 in October, and Paradise submitted 345. The Class 2A Division II range in 2010 was 293.5 to 429.
In 2010, the two rivals went east for football and picked up Callisburg, Ponder, Howe and Pottsboro.
Several schools within the boundaries of that district are expected to change classifications, which should impact Boyd and Paradise. Bowie, Pilot Point, Whitesboro and Van Alstyne all have enrollments under the 2010 cutoff and anticipate moves down to 2A.
“Bowie and Pilot Point dropping back down to 2A could impact our district,” said retiring Boyd Athletic Director J.G. Cartwright. “There’s a lot happening with schools changing that will impact where we end up.
“But this rarely turns out the way we expect it.”
Boyd’s and Paradise’s district in the other sports could change drastically. For the past two years, they’ve been with Brock, Godley, Tolar, Jacksboro, Millsap and Peaster. Godley is on the cusp of moving up to 3A with an enrollment of 439.
Alvord turned in an enrollment of 204 in October – just above the 2010 cutoff of 199 for Class A.
Enis doesn’t expect the ranges to change enough next week to shift the Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs to the smaller classification.
“There’s an outside chance we may drop down because that number usually fluctuates by five,” he said. “But with the number of schools shrinking, that number will likely stay at 199. It has the last two realignments.”
For football, Alvord was with City View, Nocona, Henrietta, Holliday and Jacksboro for the past two years. Enis expects to see a pretty similar league.
Alvord will see some change in its league for other sports. Krum is expected to move to Class 3A, leaving the district that also included Nocona, Holliday, City View, Henrietta and Ponder.
Chico dropped from 2A to A in 2010 and with its enrollment at 159 in October, it is expected to stay where it is.
Chico went to a tough Division I football district that included state powers Lindsay, Muenster and Collinsville along with Petrolia and Valley View. Muenster is expected to move down to Division II.
Carter expects his school to end up out west with Archer City and Santo or back east with his current bunkmates.
“It could go one of two ways,” he said. “But anything can happen. There’s a lot of schools moving from big school to small school and some small schools going big.”
Northwest football coach Bill Patterson doesn’t worry much about realignment. As he points out, he’ll likely be put in a district with a state champion or someone playing to become one.
“I’m pretty lucky,” Patterson said. “Three years ago we were with Trinity, and they won state. The next year Denton Guyer played in the title game. Southlake won it this year.”
Northwest turned in 2,320 putting it in the middle of Class 5A. With the lack of large schools west of it, the school is almost certain to stay in Region I.
HIGH SCHOOL ENROLLMENT
- Alvord … 204 … 221
- Boyd … 385 … 334
- Bridgeport … 628 … 619
- Chico … 159 … 184
- Decatur … 883 … 857
- Northwest … 2,320 … 2,720
- Paradise … 345 … 306
- Slidell … 79 … 72
2011 … 2009