Earlier this month, one of the most anticipated announcements that happens every two years was made. It was the disclosure of the new UIL district alignments that will affect Texas high school teams for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons. It’s always a big deal for coaches and players.
“There’s always guesses and predictions. Nobody knows. It’s the best-kept secret in the state of Texas,” Mansfield High athletic coordinator Jeff Hulme said.
Some schools are obviously more affected than others, and for most Mansfield ISD programs the changes this time are fairly minimal. Probably the most affected will be Timberview, which will drop down from the state’s biggest classification. (The UIL has added a 6A classification this year, so what has been 5A essentially becomes 6A, and so forth.)
The Wolves will join Lake Ridge, Legacy and Summit in District 14-5A, along with Lancaster, Red Oak, Waxahachie and Arlington Seguin. It’s effectively the same as the current District 15-4A, but with Timberview replacing Ennis. It came as no surprise to Timberview coaches.
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“We’ve known for about the last two years that we would be moving down,” Timberview athletic coordinator James Brown said. “We kind of got caught in that first year of realignment with numbers prior to Lake Ridge opening, so for the 2012 and 2013 seasons we really were playing with 4A enrollment numbers.”
Despite moving down, Timberview will still be among the smallest schools in its new district.
“The biggest part of the equation is that at least we get to a level playing field as far as numbers in school buildings go,” Brown said. “Obviously, that will have a bigger impact on our sub-varsity level, when we’re not playing teams that have 80 more kids than us at the JV level, or 70 more kids than us at the freshman level.”
Despite having played in a higher classification in recent years, the Wolves often still scheduled other MISD teams in non-district competition.
“I think there’s a lot of familiarities there; I think there’s a lot of built-in rivalries because of the three other Mansfield schools,” Brown said. “Overall, I think we’ve gone from what was one of the toughest 5A districts in the state of Texas, if not the country, and moved into a very comparable one in 14-5A.”
The new district alignment leaves Mansfield High the lone MISD school in the state’s highest classification. They will spend the next two seasons in District 8-6A, which will look awfully similar to its current home in District 7-5A. In fact, the only change is that Timberview leaves. The remaining opponents are the same: Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Duncanville, Grand Prairie, Midlothian and South Grand Prairie.
“I really wasn’t surprised,” Hulme said. “There was some talk that we might go west and play some different teams, which would have been nice. This will be the fifth and sixth year that we’ve played Duncanville and Cedar Hill and Midlothian. I mean, that’s great, I like playing them and working with those coaches, but I think once in a while it’s nice to have a change. So that’s sort of what we were hoping for.”
The biggest change for the Tigers will come in teams they’ll meet in the postseason. District 8-6A will match up in bi-district play with 7-6A, which has been all the talk since realignment was announced. That powerhouse new district will feature programs such as Southlake Carroll, Euless Trinity, Coppell and Colleyville Heritage.
“Everybody saw that and I think it was the second thing we noticed as soon as the realignments came up,” Hulme said. “I don’t know if there’s a tougher matchup in the state of Texas than these two districts in the first round.”
“There’s going to be some huge games in that first round,” he added. “That can be a good and bad thing. Good because the first round will be really big, but the bad thing is that a couple of really good teams will be gone after the first round of the playoffs.”