The third and final step of the University Interscholastic League’s realignment process will take place on Monday morning when the governing body releases the districts that schools will compete in for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years.
This portion of realignment usually brings the most surprises and there is a chance that the latest version continues to provide more than a couple.
After gathering enrollments from around the state in late October, the UIL announced the classification cutoffs as well as the dividing lines for football divisions in early December.
Two years ago, the UIL split Class 5A football into divisions for the first time and Sherman and Denison were in different districts for the first time in 25 years — Denison went to Division II and Sherman was put in Division I. Because it was the first time 5A was changed liked this, no one really had an idea of what it would look like and how teams would be paired. For the most part, history can be a pretty good guide for figuring out where teams will end up but this was uncharted territory.
Both Sherman and Denison will remain in 5A for all sports and again are split for football, which means the next two Battle of the Ax match-ups are slated for the season-opening contest.
But if there was anything learned from the first go-around with the 5A football split, there will not be a lot of carryover — particularly with the Bearcats and Yellow Jackets — because their districts will be undergoing major changes.
For Sherman, both Texas High and Mesquite Poteet will be moving down to Division II, which could mean the Bearcats end up with some of the same opponents — like McKinney North and Wylie East — but also add in some multi-ISDs like Denton (Denton and Ryan) and Carrollton (Smith and Turner). It could also send the Bearcats into Region I instead of staying in Region II.
Denison will also lose a couple of teams from its current district — Frisco Reedy goes to Division I and Denton Braswell went all the way up to Class 6A — so change is on the horizon for the Jackets as well. Prosper will be opening its new school, Rock Hill, and is a likely candidate to fill one of those spots. The other slot could end up going to Carrollton Creekview, which is dropping down from Division I.
Sherman and Denison will remain together for the other sports and there is a chance the current 10-5A, which also includes Lovejoy, McKinney North, Princeton and Wylie East, stays the same. The only question might involve where Rock Hill ends up and it could be with this district because it is the smallest in North Texas and makes for a logical fit.
During the cutoff release portion of realignment, a couple of Texoma schools learned a little bit about their future. The biggest change will be for Van Alstyne, which will be moving up to Class 4A starting next school year. The Panthers turned in 517 students and the Class 3A/4A cutoff was 515.
Instead of being with familiar football foes like Pottsboro and Howe and schools such as Whitewright, Bells, Leonard and Blue Ridge for other sports, Van Alstyne awaits its fate with new opponents in 4A. For football, that could mean being placed with the likes of Caddo Mills, Farmersville, Community and Quinlan Ford to the east or perhaps with Krum, Aubrey and Sanger to the west. For the other sports, the most-likely fit is the current 11-4A that houses Anna, Aubrey, Celina, Gainesville, Melissa and Sanger.
The domino effect of Van Alstyne’s move could reach several Texoma schools. With Van Alstyne leaving District 5-3A (I) in football along with Lone Oak, which is dropping to Division II, does that open the door for Whitesboro to slide back east and rejoin Pottsboro and Howe as well as avoid the western travel it has dealt with recently by being in Region I instead of Region II?
In the other sports, does the current 10-3A — Bells, Blue Ridge, Bonham, Howe, Leonard and Whitewright — remain the same and just not have to deal with byes because there would now be an even number of teams?
Another change for the area football scene will come in Class 2A. The Tioga Bulldogs are moving up from Division II to Division I and there is a natural fit in the current 5-2A (I) because of the void left by Valley View, which is moving up to 3A. Tioga could easily join Collinsville, Tom Bean, Celeste and Trenton in addition to anyone else that could go with the small group.
And that move by Valley View, coupled with a divisional drop by Lone Oak? It might send Gunter and S&S back east after they have been coupled with teams around Wichita Falls. Those two could end up with Bells and Whitewright, which would welcome a move back to Region II after their recent placement in Region III.
All of these questions will be answered, the competition across the state will be mapped out for the next two years and the schedule-makers will then go into overdrive.