SPORTS HEADLINES

Eagles, Bulls await split-up; Rivals to land in different districts

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, February 1, 2014

The historic district football rivalry between Decatur and Bridgeport will become part of the past Monday morning.

The University Interscholastic League (UIL) will unveil its biennial realignment at 9 a.m. Monday and the two Big Sandy rivals will end up in separate Class 4A divisions for football. Decatur will be a 4A Division I school, and Bridgeport heads to 4A Division II.

In an unprecedented move, the UIL released the cutoffs its six classifications and the division breaks in the lower four leagues in December. Previously, the organization had waited to release those numbers along with realignment in the first week of February.

“The UIL coming out with that information took some of the shock value out of it,” said Danny Henson, Bridgeport football coach and athletic director. “It also allowed coaches to figure out their non-district schedules.”

The UIL also renamed its classifications for this realignment. The previous 5A division became 6A and the next four leagues elevated in class. The previous Class A Division II will now be Class A, and Class A Division I is now 2A.

While schools know what classification they will be in for 2014-2016, they are still left to wonder what league they will end up in when the UIL releases the new district alignments.

“I don’t make any guesses because I’ve never been right,” said Kyle Story, Decatur football coach and athletic director.

Carl Padilla of San Antonio, creator of the Padilla Poll, has compiled his list of district projections and is confident with his picks.

“I do but there’s always different ways of doing things,” Padilla said. “One of the tougher things to project is what they will do with the bigger schools in the Metroplex.”

Here are a few items to watch for Monday:

DECATUR, BRIDGEPORT SPLIT

Since 1998, the Bridgeport Bulls and Decatur Eagles have shared a football league.

With a big-school, small-school division split being introduced to Class 4A this realignment, they will go their separate ways.

“Since I’ve been here at Bridgeport, there’s been two cycles (1994-96 and 1996-98) that we were not in the same district,” said Henson, who started with the Bulls in 1993.

Story, who arrived in 1999 in Decatur, has always been paired with Bridgeport.

Both coaches have already vowed to keep the Battle of Big Sandy alive as a non-district game. It it tentatively set at the fifth non-district game for each.

“We still plan to play each other,” Story said. “If we end up with a bigger district, we’ll move the game up.”

The division split that will put the two in separate districts for football is supported by both. In 4A-II, Bridgeport, whose enrollment is 627, will be paired with schools that have between 465 and 685 students.

“Football takes so many resources and there’s a big difference in the big schools and smaller schools,” Henson said. “The UIL is doing something to help.”

Decatur, with an enrollment of 876, will be with schools with between 686 and 1,059 students in 4A Division I.

“It levels the playing field and there won’t be as wide of a range,” Story said. “It will be good for equality.”

The division split is only for football. Decatur and Bridgeport could end up in the same league for volleyball, basketball and the spring sports.

Padilla expects Decatur to end up in District 4-4A Division I with Sanger, Lake Worth, Gainesville, Springtown and Argyle. He projects Bridgeport to be in the expansive District 3-4A Division II with Celina, Anna, Aubrey, Iowa Park and Vernon.

NORTHWEST, BYRON NELSON TO BE IN 6A

Northwest and Byron Nelson are expected by both Northwest ISD officials and Padilla to be together in a 6A league Monday.

“That’ll be a good rivalry,” said Northwest football coach Bill Patterson.

Who will join the two Northwest ISD schools is anyone’s guess.

“I’ve been here five years, and this will be the third realignment and it’s always been different,” Patterson said. “We’ve always been with the Keller schools but the other schools have been different.”

Padilla projects Northwest and Byron Nelson to stay with the Keller schools and add Denton Ryan and Guyer.

BOYD, PARADISE STAY PUT

Boyd and Paradise will be in Class 3A Division I and don’t expect to see much change.

“I think things will stay pretty much the same,” said Boyd football coach and athletic director Brandon Hopkins. “We could lose Pilot Point or Whitesboro. Maybe we’ll get a six-team district.”

Boyd turned in an enrollment of 350 to put it in the Division I that has a range of 315-464.

Paradise has an enrollment of 337 – 12 over the cutoff for Division II.

“It makes it tough being one of the smaller schools in the division – but it’s not something you can control,” said Paradise football coach and athletic director Scott Broussard. “You control what you can, and that’s getting your kids ready.”

The two are not sure how newcomers to 3A Division I – Brock, Glen Rose, West and Hillsboro – may affect where they go.

Padilla expects Paradise and Boyd to be with Ponder, Whitesboro, Callisburg and Bowie in a six-team league.

ALVORD IN NEW TO 2A

After battling in the old Class 2A the past few years as one of the division’s smallest, Alvord will stay in the new 2A and suddenly be one of the biggest.

With an enrollment of 202, Alvord fit under the cutoff of 219 for Class 2A Division I – the old Class A Division I.

“It’s a good move for our athletic program,” said Alvord football coach and athletic director Curtis Enis. “We’ve been a small fish in a large pond for the last few years. When we first went to 2A and had an enrollment of 230 we were fine. When we dropped to 204, it hurt us to compete against much larger schools.”

Alvord will be in the same division with Chico, which turned in 185.

SLIDELL COULD GO IN MULTIPLE DIRECTIONS

With an enrollment of 66, Slidell will be in the smallest classification – Class A.

But athletic director Todd McCormick is unsure if the school will stay with its current district mates that include Forestburg, Midway, Gold-Burg, Saint Jo and Prairie Valley.

“The key will be what they do with Tioga,” McCormick said. “No one is near them. They could pull us east with Dodd City and Roxton. They could also bring Tioga in with us to make an eight-team district.”

UIL realignment will be announced at 9 a.m. Monday. See where Wise schools land at wcmsports.com

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