After a six-year run with 10 or 11 teams in a single Class 4A district, Fort Worth's high schools are splitting up.
But the UIL's football and basketball realignment for the next two school years, released Thursday, is not a painful breakup.
The current 10-team 6-4A will be spread among Districts 6-4A and 7-4A with Aledo, Granbury, Birdville, Saginaw, Saginaw Chisholm Trail and Saginaw Boswell. Also, Fort Worth Polytechnic moves up to 4A.
The Fort Worth divide could have been avoided. Using the UIL's enrollment formula, Dunbar was eligible to drop to 3A, which includes schools with enrollments between 450 and 1,004 students. Dunbar easily qualified with 787, but Fort Worth officials opted to keep the Wildcats in 4A.
"Dunbar is used to competing up there at the 4A level, and there was an interest by several parties to continue with them at that level, so we allowed that to happen," Fort Worth athletic director Kevin Greene said. "It wasn't one specific meeting. We weighed all of the possibilities and decided to keep them at the 4A level. The Dunbar coaches I spoke to today didn't have a comment one way or another."
Greene said the athletic department will talk to its schools and decide in the next few days whether to accept the two-district alignment or appeal to the UIL for changes.
"We are still looking at the results of the UIL split from today," Greene said. "There may be some other avenues we can explore as far as looking at a different alignment possibly than what came out today."
While Dunbar and Polytechnic could have swapped spots without wide-sweeping change, for now, coaches have accepted the current district divide.
"We're happy with the way it turned out," Southwest football coach Lanny Trammell said. "I don't know why they had to split all of the Fort Worth schools up like this, but it's OK. I'm fine with it."
Instead of complaining about potential tougher schedules, many Fort Worth football coaches are looking forward to next year.
"It's going to make us have to get better, improve our programs and get to a higher level," said Trammell, whose Raiders took first in 6-4A last season. "I'm excited about it."
In 6-4A, the three Saginaw schools and Birdville join Fort Worth's Carter-Riverside, Dunbar, Eastern Hills, North Side and Polytechnic.
"I think we are sitting pretty good in the district we are in," Dunbar coach Todd Lawson said. "I like the way it went."
District 7-4A will have Fort Worth powers Southwest and Arlington Heights plus South Hills, Trimble Tech and Western Hills. Aledo, which has won three straight 4A Division II state championships, and Granbury, a playoff team the past two years, complete the district.
"We're all going to have to continue to raise our level of play," Western Hills coach John Naylor Jr. said. "I'm surprised. We heard something was coming, and obviously with Poly coming up we had to split up. But I was surprised where we landed. But that's the way it goes. Now we have to get to work."
Aledo played in a district with Fort Worth schools when it was a 3A program. Now the Bearcats will return.
"Everything goes in cycles," Aledo coach Tim Buchanan said. "There are good football teams in that group, so the competition level at the varsity level won't be a problem."
Buchanan said the move will affect Aledo's sub-varsity teams. The Bearcats have two JV squads and up to three freshman teams. Many Fort Worth schools don't have the numbers to play as many games.
In the past, 6-4A teams have had only one nondistrict opponent. Now Dunbar will play Wyatt in nondistrict, continuing a rivalry.
Southwest had planned to play Aledo next season, but the game is now a district matchup. Trammell will have to find another team to play.
"We are still struggling to find a couple games," Trammell said. "The scramble has begun."
Brent Shirley, 817-390-7760