By Thursday, each high school across Texas will have submitted its enrollment numbers to the University Interscholastic League for realignment 2016. The announcement date is Feb. 2.
But what we saw last week in the snapshot may represent the demographics significantly changing in Northeast Tarrant County. You may have to get used to the idea of Class 5A district that will include Colleyville Heritage, Justin Northwest, Richland, Grapevine, Birdville and the new Northwest ISD school, V.R. Eaton.
The UIL Class 6A cutoff for the 2014 realignment was 2,100. That number typically increases. Cutoff numbers could be released in December.
Richland revealed 2,041. Colleyville Heritage was at 2,097. Northwest will submit 2,079. Birdville is at 2,080. Grapevine is at 1,908. Eaton has 1,964, but there’s a kicker to that. With an enrollment of 982, you take that number and multiply it by two.
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Technically, the school will have ninth, 10th and 11th grades for 2016-2017. Normally, the formula used to calculate the figure is 1.33. However, NISD athletic director Joel Johnson said the UIL told his district that due to Eaton playing competitively in district in non-team sports in this academic calendar, the enrollment has to be doubled.
Northwest is the school that took the hardest hit because Eaton drew about 750 students away. There is every reason to believe the Texans will drop. It does look like Northwest and Northwest Byron Nelson will continue to play each other if it becomes a non-district game. That’s good. Those two schools need to be playing each other.
Colleyville Heritage is the interesting story because it has been in the state’s largest classification for nearly two decades. The issue within the GISD is that it is landlocked, so there are really no areas for the district’s two high schools to grow, much less expand to a third. An incremental enrollment decline may be in its future.
What’s intriguing about this potential district is everybody is very similar in size. When you have teams competing for future playoff positions, the slimmest of margins could make the difference between playing in Division I or Division II.
The 6A scene could go in other directions. I think the UIL and people in the area liked 7-6A because the two Carroll-Euless Trinity games were epic. Carroll won, 10-6, in 2014. Trinity won, 37-35, this year. It would be good for those two programs to remain in the same district.
Obviously, Hurst L.D. Bell will be with Trinity. But if you take those three and group them with Coppell, then this could go anywhere. They can go east into Irving. They can go west with the four Keller schools. They can go north with Denton and Denton Guyer. The latter could be a six-team district.
The logistics are going to make that a challenge. Haltom and Nelson will stay 6A. Really, the only logical fit is to keep Nelson with the Keller schools. Haltom is on an island without Richland.
You could also see something where the Denton schools move back with the four Lewisville schools. That would then make it easier for Nelson and Haltom to go with the Keller schools.
Even as the high school football season is closing for many schools this weekend, realignment is a reminder that the future is now.
High school picks
We enjoyed our second perfect week of picks this past week. On a couple of those 50-50 games between Coppell-Colleyville Heritage and Keller-Keller Fossil Ridge, we turned out to be on the right side.
Not every playoff berth has been clinched. Birdville needs to win Friday to wrap up the last spot in District 6-5A, while Northwest Byron Nelson (5-4, 3-3), Keller (5-4, 2-4) and Keller Timber Creek (3-6, 2-4) are fighting for the last spot in 5-6A. If Nelson beats Keller Fossil Ridge, it clinches. If there’s a three-way tie, the district’s plus/minus 14-point would intercede. That favors Nelson. The Bobcats are plus four because they beat Keller, 21-14, and lost to Timber Creek, 57-54 in five overtimes. Timber Creek is zero because its win over Nelson and then 41-38 loss to Keller. Keller is minus four.
If Keller loses its finale to Northwest, Nelson loses to Fossil Ridge and Timber Creek beats Keller Central, it creates a two-way tie between Nelson and Timber Creek. Timber Creek earns the playoff berth.
The playoffs make your enemy your friend. Nelson is pulling for Keller. Timber Creek is pulling for Northwest.
The Colleyville Heritage-Richland winner is in the playoffs. Birdville clinches if it beats Fort Worth Carter-Riverside. If that doesn’t happen, then the District 6-5A tiebreakers determine who is going should Fort Worth Dunbar lose to Lake Dallas.
Other teams are going through playoff preparations. But they’re not going to slack off in these regular season finales, either.
Euless Trinity (10-0, 6-0 7-6A) has the bye before the playoffs start next week.
Last week: 8-0
Fort Worth Carter-Riverside (5-4, 2-3) at Birdville (3-6, 3-2); 7 p.m. Thursday, Birdville Fine Arts and Athletics Complex, North Richland Hills: It wasn’t stunning that Birdville lost to Grapevine. But the Hawks were dominated. Their patented running game just isn’t what it has been in years past. Carter-Riverside has a chance, but not a good one.
Prediction: Birdville 33, Fort Worth Carter-Riverside 15
Keller Timber Creek (3-6, 2-4) vs. Keller Central (3-6, 1-5); 7 p.m. Thursday, Keller ISD Athletic Complex, Keller: The game really hinges on the health of Timber Creek running back Braxton Washington, who was hurt last week against Denton Guyer. Even if it he were to somehow play, it’s hard to know how effective he could be. Central would love to end on a high note. Flip a coin here.
Prediction: Keller Central 23, Keller Timber Creek 21
Denton Ryan (9-0, 6-0) vs. Denton Guyer (7-2, 5-1); 7 p.m. Friday, C.H. Collins Athletic Complex, Denton: No, they’re not in our coverage area, but they are in District 5-6A and are headed to the playoffs. Former Grapevine coach Dave Henigan has the Raiders enjoying a really nice bounce-back season and can win the outright championship. Both teams are going to the playoffs. The Collins Complex should be jammed for this. I’m going with the Raiders.
Prediction: Denton Ryan 38, Denton Guyer 35
Keller (5-4, 2-4) at Justin Northwest (1-8, 1-5); 7 p.m. Friday, NISD Stadium, Justin: This Keller team was just never the same when starting quarterback Caleb Griffin was lost to injury six weeks ago. Dillon Smith has done solid work as his replacement. And there’s still running back Tyler Tutt, who is at 1,510 yards. At the very least, Keller wants to end with a winning season. Northwest’s rushing defense has struggled all year.
Prediction: Keller 35, Justin Northwest 20
Northwest Byron Nelson (5-4, 3-3) at Keller Fossil Ridge (5-4, 4-2); 7 p.m. Friday, Keller ISD Athletic Complex, Keller: Fossil Ridge is playing with house money now that it’s already in the playoffs. Of course, the Panthers will play to win. But they won’t have the urgency Nelson does. I do think the Bobcats are playing some really good football. They lost to Denton Guyer and Keller Timber Creek by a combined five points.
Prediction: Byron Nelson 34, Keller Fossil Ridge 29
Hurst L.D. Bell (1-8, 1-4) at Carroll (7-2, 4-1); 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dragon Stadium, Southlake: The Dragons will not look ahead to a matchup with Cedar Hill. This game against the Blue Raiders is about making sure everything is operating smoothly.
Prediction: Carroll 56, Hurst L.D. Bell 8
Colleyville Heritage (4-5, 2-3) at Richland (3-6, 2-3); 7:30 p.m. Friday, Birdville Fine Arts and Athletics Center, North Richland Hills: The Panthers’ 2014 season came down to this game last year and they won. Now, the offense has been pretty stagnant the last two weeks. But this Richland team just doesn’t have enough.
Prediction: Colleyville Heritage 35, Richland 25
Haltom (1-8, 0-5) at Coppell (5-4, 3-2); 7:30 p.m. Friday, Buddy Echols Field, Coppell: Quarterback changes and a fan base very unhappy over the way the program is being run and players are being treated has been in the news with Coppell. Yet the Cowboys are returning to the postseason. Haltom’s tough season ends quietly.
Prediction: Coppell 44, Haltom 3
Grapevine (7-2, 4-1) at Fort Worth Eastern Hills (1-8, 1-4); 7:30 p.m. Friday, Handley Field, Fort Worth: The Mustangs took major strides this year with impressive wins over Fort Worth Arlington Heights and last week against Birdville. This game with the Highlanders means nothing except that the Mustangs can get to eight wins. The running game is looking a little better. The Highlanders have scored 26 points all season.
Prediction: Grapevine 48, Fort Worth Eastern Hills 7