There turned out to be enough brutal honesty to go around for our coverage area schools after the UIL released its biannual realignment Monday.
In a nutshell:
• The always-intense Carroll-Coppell rivalry has resumed.
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• Carroll and Euless Trinity are in the same district for the first time.
• Grapevine found out Christmas really does come in early February.
• Northwest Byron Nelson has a new major mountain to scale.
• It’s likely the Northwest and Keller schools will forever be linked.
• Colleyville Heritage’s road to make the football playoffs is more daunting than ever.
• Bi-district playoff matchups are beyond challenging.
A new era of high school reclassification began as current 5A schools are now recognized as 6A. Schools like Grapevine remain in the new 5A, which was 4A. Zero week has also been eliminated. Football programs are now playing Weeks 1-11.
As far as the new districts, Justin Northwest, Northwest Byron Nelson, Keller, Keller Central, Keller Fossil Ridge and Keller Timber Creek are in District 5-6A with Denton Guyer and Denton Ryan. Guyer is the reigning two-time Division I state champion in the former 4A.
Carroll and Colleyville Heritage are in District 7-6A with Euless Trinity, Hurst L.D. Bell, Coppell, Haltom and Richland.
For Grapevine, the Mustangs are in District 6-5A with Lake Dallas, Birdville, Fort Worth Dunbar, Fort Worth Eastern Hills, Fort Worth Carter-Riverside and Fort Worth Poly.
“I was shocked,” Grapevine coach Dave Henigan said. “I didn’t see this coming. But it’s just so different. From top to bottom, the teams in 6A are stronger than those in 5A.”
For a program that has struggled in recent years like Grapevine, a favorable district like this could help it regain some confidence. Playing Lake Dallas, which is a very solid program, is still a lot different than playing Trinity.
The good news is that Grapevine and Colleyville Heritage will keep their rivalry. Once the enrollment cutoff numbers were announced in December, Henigan and Colleyville Heritage coach Mike Fuller agreed to play in the second game of the season.
However, Carroll will enjoy few breathers. Including its tentative non-district schedule, which includes Austin Westlake, Tulsa (OK) Union in the Southwest Showcase at Cowboys Stadium, Midland Lee and Abilene, the Dragons will resume their rivalry with Coppell. It’s a rivalry that stretches back to the 1980s when Carroll was in 3A and Coppell was 4A. Times have changed. The bitterness hasn’t.
But being paired with Trinity will have its own storyline. The teams met in the playoffs in consecutive years and eliminated each other. Carroll did it to Trinity in 2012. Trinity returned the favor in 2013.
The challenge for Northwest and Byron Nelson to make the playoffs is going to be tougher. Guyer and Ryan are long been established as football powers. The immediate perception is that the two Northwest ISD and four Keller ISD teams are vying for two playoff spots.
“We just have to roll up our sleeves and focus on getting better,” Northwest ISD AD Susan Elza said. “Let’s go.”
The bi-district playoff matchups will also make life difficult. The new 7-6A will be paired with an 8-6A that includes DeSoto and Cedar Hill. DeSoto played in the 2013 state semifinals. Cedar Hill won the 2013 state championship.
The new 5-6A faces a 6-6A that includes two-time state champion Allen, Plano, Plano West and Plano East. Finally, the new 6-5A faces a 5-5A that will include Wichita Falls Rider, White Settlement Brewer, Saginaw and Denton. Back in the early 1990s, Grapevine shared the same 5A district with Rider.
Here’s a look at the non-district football schedules for our nine coverage teams. All schedules are tentative and subject to change.
Austin Westlake, Tulsa (OK) Union, Midland Lee, Abilene
Abilene, Grapevine, Lake Highlands, Arlington Bowie
North Crowley, Colleyville Heritage, Weatherford, FW Arlington Heights
Corsicana, Prosper, Arlington Lamar
Midland Lee, Flower Mound, Rowlett
Hurst L.D. Bell, Arlington Lamar, Wichita Falls
Keller Fossil Ridge
Tyler Lee, Mansfield Lake Ridge, Midlothian
Keller Timber Creek
Irving Nimitz, Burleson, Irving
Northwest Byron Nelson
Flower Mound, San Angelo Central, Birdville