The Decatur Eagles are headed west, and the Bridgeport Bulls east.
The Big Sandy rivals were sent in opposite directions for football Monday morning when the University Interscholastic League unveiled its biennial realignment for 2014-16. It was the first realignment with a division split for the UIL’s third-largest classification in football.
While they’re in separate leagues for football, Decatur and Bridgeport will be back together for basketball.
All the Wise County schools will start competition in their new leagues in August.
The UIL released realignment for football and basketball Monday. The new leagues for the other sports will be released later.
This year’s realignment included renaming the UIL’s six classifications from 6A to A. That put six-man football and the former Class A Division II schools in their own classification, A. The former Class A Division I and A 11-man football schools are now 2A. The rest of the classifications also moved up, with the largest league now 6A.
The split for the new 4A presented a fair amount of intrigue for this year’s realignment. The split was used in the past realignment in the old 2A and Class A.
UIL athletic director Mark Cousins said the split presented a challenge because of the lack of schools in 4A. It is the smallest classification, with 186 schools in the range of 465 students and 1,059. Division I is for schools with 686 to 1,059 students. Division II is for those with 465 to 685.
“That’s the old 3A, and even before the split, it was the one class that was the biggest challenge with the number of schools and the enrollments,” Cousins said. “In that range, there are not that many schools. The question is, how large do you want those ratios? Then when you split it in half, one of the biggest concerns is travel.”
Cousins said the added travel caused by the division splits in 4A, 3A and 2A for football is a reason why the UIL is not looking to do the same in other sports.
Here’s a look at where everyone is headed as a result of the realignment.
EAGLES, BULLS SPLIT
The Decatur Eagles will play in 4A Division I’s 4-4A in Region I with Burkburnett, Wichita Falls Hirschi, Graham, Mineral Wells and Gainesville.
“It’s a good district,” said Decatur athletic director Kyle Story. “It’ll be a good competitive district for football. We’ve enjoyed our time in West Texas as we have out east.”
The Eagles could face a tough bi-district opponent with a loaded District 3-4A next to them that includes Stephenville, Brownwood and Abilene Wylie.
Bridgeport will shift east in Division II’s 3-4A with Aubrey, Celina, Krum, Anna and Bonham.
“Our football district came out to what we were predicting,” said Bridgeport athletic director Danny Henson. “We’re used to competing with Celina in scrimmages. We’ve played Krum and have an idea about them.
“We knew we’d be looking at some travel with Division II, but most of the district games are what we are used to traveling.”
For basketball, Decatur and Bridgeport will be together in 8-4A with Castleberry, Lake Worth and Springtown. The two were sent to Region I and avoided being in the same region with Dallas ISD powerhouses Dallas Madison and Lincoln, as well as Argyle.
NORTHWEST, BYRON NELSON LAND TOGETHER
As expected, Northwest will be in the same league next year with its district mate Byron Nelson. The two landed in 6A’s District 5 with Denton Guyer, Denton Ryan and Keller’s four schools – Keller, Central, Fossil Ridge and Timber Creek.
“It’s what we thought with the Keller schools and Byron Nelson,” said Northwest football coach Bill Patterson. “It’s going to be a tough district.”
Once again, as in the past with Euless Trinity and Southlake Carroll, Northwest will be in a district with a team coming off a state title – this time Guyer.
“We’re good about that. We’re fortunate to keep getting the state champion,” Patterson said. “But all around us are good football teams.”
BOYD, PARADISE STAY TOGETHER
Boyd and Paradise will again be linked in the same football district but will have new mates. After sharing league last year with Callisburg, Whitesboro and Pilot Point, the Wise County schools move west to Region I’s 4-3A Division I with Breckenridge, Bowie, Brock and Ponder.
“It was kind of a surprise the way it turned out,” said Boyd athletic director Brandon Hopkins. “It will be a decent district. The only drawback is the post-district travel.”
Paradise athletic director Scott Broussard also expressed excitement about the new league.
“I didn’t think that’s the way it would be,” he said. “It’s not too bad of a realignment.”
For basketball, the two got away from perennial powers Peaster, Brock and Ponder. They will be in 9-3A with Henrietta, Holliday, Jacksboro, Nocona and City View.
“Our basketball coaches are really happy,” Broussard said. “It’ll be good for the kids to play different people.”
ALVORD, CHICO TO HEAD EAST
Alvord dipped down into the new 2A Division I and landed in the same league with an old rival, Chico. The two Wise County schools will be in 5-2A with Valley View, Bells, Blue Ridge and Trenton for football.
“I thought that Chico, Valley View and us were hooked together,” said Alvord athletic director Curtis Enis. “We thought we’d go west with Olney and Archer City. We’re glad to be with Trenton, Bells and Blue Ridge. It’ll be refreshing to be with all new people.”
After competing against larger schools, Enis said it will be good to face schools their own size.
“Our kids are excited. They see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Enis said.
Chico athletic director Stephen Carter also liked the new league.
“It’s exciting to get some new faces,” he said. “We’d rather go that way for travel purposes.”
For basketball, Alvord and Chico will be with Collinsville, Era, Lindsay, Muenster, Poolville and Valley View.
SLIDELL STAYS IN SAME SPOT
Of all the area schools, Slidell saw the least amount of change in the new alignment. The Greyhounds stayed in 21-A with Bellevue, Gold-Burg, Forestburg, Midway, Prairie Valley and Saint Jo. The lone change was the addition of Tioga, who is competing in the UIL for the first time.
“We may be the only eight-team district in the region,” said Slidell athletic director Todd McCormick.
DRAWING NEW LEAGUES
The UIL unveiled its new alignments for 2014-16 Monday. Here are the results.
4-4A I Football
Decatur, Burkburnett, Wichita Falls Hirschi, Graham, Mineral Wells, Gainesville
3-4A II Football
Bridgeport, Aubrey, Anna, Krum, Bonham, Celina
Decatur, Bridgeport, Castleberry, Lake Worth, Springtown
Northwest, Byron Nelson, Denton Ryan, Denton Guyer, Keller, Keller Central, Fossil Ridge, Timber Creek
4-3A I Football
Boyd, Paradise, Breckenridge, Bowie, Ponder, Brock
Henrietta, Holliday, Jacksboro, Nocona, City View
5-2A I Football
Alvord, Chico, Valley View, Bells, Blue Ridge, Trenton
11-2A I Basketball
Alvord, Chico, Collinsville, Era, Lindsay, Muenster, Poolville, Valley View
Slidell, Bellevue, Gold-Burg, Forestburg, Midway, Prairie Valley, Saint Jo, Tioga