High School Sports

This UIL announcement just made life easier for some teams — and harder for others

The University Interscholastic League’s Wednesday announcement of classification cutoff numbers gave some stunning and sobering news to North Texas high schools.

Some takeaways:

▪ Richland is moving from Class 5A to 6A.

▪ Haslet Eaton, which opened in 2015, will climb from 5A to 6A.

▪ Mansfield Lake Ridge and Mansfield Summit are moving from 5A to 6A to join Mansfield.

▪ There’s the potential of a Class 4A district including such notable Fort Worth ISD schools as Western Hills, Diamond Hill-Jarvis, Dunbar and Benbrook.

▪ One move that could impact the likes of Aledo, Burleson and Burleson Centennial — those schools turned in 1,738, 1,667 and 1,780, respectively — is Abilene Wylie. That traditional football power is moving from 4A to 5A with an enrollment figure of 1,164.

The new 6A floor is 2,190. That’s an increase of 40 students from the current 2,150, which expires Feb. 1. That’s when the 2018-2020 district realignment will be announced.

For 5A, the range is 1,150-2,189. However, the Division I-Division II split is at 1,839. Schools between 1,840-2,189 will be in Division I. Schools between 1,150-1,839 will be in Division II. This split only applies to football.

Statewide superintendents passed the divisions policy 147-77 on March 1. Classes A, 2A, 3A and 4A are already using this system. The goal is to pair schools of similar enrollment size in equitable playoff brackets.

Help for Justin Northwest

This early announcement also helps football coaches, who have verbally set up their non-district schedules, to make adjustments. A school like Justin Northwest, which has 1,791 students, will drop into Division II. The Texans have played the other Northwest ISD programs in Eaton and Trophy Club Byron Nelson in either district or non-district play.

Eaton (2,222) and Nelson (2,579) have major enrollment advantages. Northwest is not expected to play those teams in the future during non-district.

“There were just too many unknowns,” Northwest head football coach Bill Poe said. “But you have Eaton with nearly 500 more students and Nelson much bigger than us. That’s a big difference in the number of athletes you have to choose from. But now we’re excited to be a big fish in the small pond.”

Tough on Richland

The same can’t be said for Richland. The Rebels, who play Aledo in the Class 5A Division II state quarterfinals Saturday at the Ford Center (The Star) in Frisco, are suddenly winding down their time as a 5A program. With an enrollment of 2,207, it exceeded the cutoff by only 17 students.

Not only do the Rebels move up, they will rejoin Haltom in the same 6A district. Richland coach Ged Kates and Haltom coach Jason Tucker had agreed to keep that series going as a non-district game. Now Kates has to find another game.

“This is generally not where you want to be,” Kates said. “We had all of our programs in a position where they were competing very well at the 5A level. Now, we could be playing schools with 5,000 students. It’s definitely a new challenge for us.”

However, change could be coming to 6A — eventually. There are plans to send out a survey to 6A superintendents next year, possibly in the fall, to learn if they would be in favor of a split. If they did, the earliest that could go into effect is 2020.

Fort Worth schools drop

Fort Worth ISD’s enrollment numbers have changed. More schools are dropping classifications. Diamond Hill-Jarvis (1,001.5) is the largest of 4A schools. Dunbar, which has repeatedly opted to remain a 5A school in recent realignments and has until Feb. 1 to decide whether to do that again, is at 942. Western Hills experienced a drop and is at 935. New school Benbrook turned in 832.

A message left for district athletic director Kevin Greene seeking comment was not returned early Wednesday afternoon. South Hills will be a Division I 5A school as it submitted 2,165, just 25 students shy from being a 6A school.