There were no seismic surprises for Texoma when the University Interscholastic League released its realignment for the next two years, but there were just enough tremors that changed the landscape for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years.
Among the notable district changes, or non-changes, were some high-powered football opponents moving into Sherman’s neighborhood, the placement of Van Alstyne as it moves into Class 4A for all sports, and the directions in which the area’s Class 3A football programs — namely defending Division II champion Gunter and Division I runner-up Pottsboro — went this time around.
For Sherman and Denison football, the size of their districts and almost all of the schools did not change.
But the Bearcats saw District 7-5A (I) add perennial power Highland Park and Longview after losing Texas High and Mesquite Poteet.
The Yellow Jackets remained in a nine-team district and swapped out Frisco Reedy and Denton Braswell for Frisco Liberty, which dropped from Division I, and Prosper Rock Hill, which is opening this fall.
“It’s about what we thought it would be,” Denison head coach Chad Rogers. “Would have liked to have been in an eight-team district but it is what it is.”
For Sherman and Denison’s other sports, the path to the playoffs got a little harder. The current six-team 10-5A which also includes Lovejoy, McKinney North, Princeton and Wylie East is adding The Colony and Prosper Rock Hill — so in order to earn a playoff berth, they will have to finish ahead of four teams instead of just two.
Van Alstyne knew it was going to be in 4A and ended up in Region I for football in a district with Aubrey, Celina, Krum and Sanger. The trade-off for some more travel is that the Panthers are in a smaller district, needing to beat only one team to reach the postseason, and they and Celina are the only teams from last season with winning records.
For its other sports, Van Alstyne was placed with Anna, Aubrey, Celina, Gainesville, Melissa and Sanger.
In Class 3A, the football decisions changed everyone’s outlook except for Whitesboro. The Bearcats are in the exact same district in Division I — Bowie, Boyd, Brock, Paradise, Pilot Point and Ponder — which means at least two more years out west.
There was a chance Whitesboro could come back east and be paired with Pottsboro and Howe, but those two schools ended up being the most western end of their district. District 5-3A (I) kept the Cardinals, Bulldogs, Bonham, Commerce and Emory Rains but shifted east with the additions of Mineola, Mount Vernon, which is coached by former Baylor head coach Art Briles, and Winnsboro.
Also of note for Pottsboro, Grandview was moved back into Region II after spending the last two seasons in Region III, so if there is to be a re-match of the Division I championship game then the latest it could fall in the bracket would be the region final.
In Division II, Gunter will go for its third football title in five seasons but do so from the other end of Region II. The Tigers, along with S&S, come back to the area from a west-based district near Wichita Falls to one that is almost completely local.
The new District 8-3A (II) will consist of Gunter, S&S, Bells, Blue Ridge, Leonard, Lone Oak and Whitewright. Lone Oak dropped down from Division I and the rest of the group was the main part of 9-3A (II) for the past two seasons.
Bells and Whitewright move back from Region III with that number change in district and lose eastern opponents Cooper, which dropped to Class 2A, Prairland and Paris Chisum.
For the area 3A schools for the other sports, the domino effect of Valley View moving up from 2A and Van Alstyne moving to 4A led to some new-look districts.
S&S and Whitesboro will stay together in what will be District 10-3A with Boyd, Callisburg, Paradise, Pilot Point, Ponder and Valley View — for the Rams and Bearcats the newcomers are Boyd, Paradise and Valley View.
That decision allowed the UIL to put a dividing line between Sadler and Highway 289 as Gunter and Pottsboro were sent east into District 11-3A, which now includes Bells, Blue Ridge, Bonham, Howe, Leonard and Whitewright. It is the current 10-3A minus the loss of Van Alstyne and the addition of an extra team.
This district order also means that there will not be any bi-district match-ups between local schools as there have been recently in volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball and the even number of schools eliminates byes during district play.
In Class 2A, all three of the football-playing schools were grouped together. District 5-2A (I) now consists of six teams — Collinsville, Tom Bean and Trenton are joined by Tioga, which is moving up from Division II, Lindsay and Alvord.
Both Lindsay and Alvord move over from Region I after two of their former districtmates, Seymour and Olney, went down to Division II.
The new 5-2A (I) does add a team, which makes it slightly harder to get into the postseason overall, and all six schools were in the playoffs last season — meaning at least two of them will be left out in 2020.
For 2A volleyball, the area teams are placed together as District 16-2A will be Collinsville, Tioga, Tom Bean, Sam Rayburn, Trenton, Wolfe City, Dodd City and Savoy. Dodd City and Savoy are Class 1A teams so the first six teams are the ones competing for the four 2A playoff spots.
For 2A basketball, the area teams were broken up: Collinsville and Tioga are in District 13-2A with Alvord, Chico, Collinsville, Era, Lindsay and Muenster; Tom Bean is in District 14-2A with Celeste, Honey Grove, Sam Rayburn, Bland, Trenton and Wolfe City.
The Class 2A districts for baseball and softball will be released at a later date.
Here are the Texoma districts for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years:
Dallas Highland Park
District 7-5A (II)
Frisco Lebanon Trail
Prosper Rock Hill
District 4-4A (I)
District 4-3A (I)
District 5-3A (I)
District 8-3A (II)
District 5-2A (I)
Prosper Rock Hill