Written by Brandon George
High schools brace for UIL's biennial realignment
On Monday morning, the Birdville Fine Arts/Athletic Complex will resemble the Wall Street trading floor.
Many area high school football coaches and athletic directors will assemble for the long-awaited announcement of the biennial UIL reclassification and realignment for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years.
At 9 a.m., all eyes will be on screens as coaches learn which districts they've been placed in for the next two years. The alignments, established by enrollment figures submitted by schools in October, will serve as football and basketball districts.
The unveiling will produce a distinct mixture of moaning and groaning and hooting and hollering. Then chaos ensues as football coaches dash across the floor, some screaming from one corner to the next, trying to fill nondistrict schedules.
"It's pretty interesting to sit back and watch," Dallas ISD athletic director Jeff Johnson said. "It's a pretty neat deal."
Generally, teams are placed in districts with their neighbors of similar size as the UIL tries to keep travel to a minimum.
The biggest shifts usually come from teams that move up or drop down in classification. For instance, a large Class 4A school from the last realignment will react with disappointment at becoming a small 5A school and a small 5A school will rejoice at becoming a large 4A school.
Thirteen area schools are on the borderline of the cutoff enrollment numbers for classifications from the 2008 realignment. The scuttlebutt among many area coaches leading up to this realignment is that the cutoff numbers could make a rare decline.
But UIL athletic director Cliff Odenwald said as long as new schools continue to be added in Class 4A and 5A and Texas' large metropolitan areas continue to grow in population, the cutoff numbers for classifications should continue to climb. And recent history supports Odenwald's statement.
The cutoff enrollment number for Class 4A and 5A schools has grown in each of the last nine realignments. The last time it dropped was 1990.
Over the last 10 realignments, the cutoff number for Class 4A-5A schools has increased by an average of 61.5 students, and the Class 3A-4A cutoff number has increased by an average of 24 students.
If that trend continues, six area schools could be on the rise and seven could be dropping in class, according to those school districts' athletic directors and football coaches.
Mansfield Legacy, Mansfield Timberview and Midlothian appear to be locks to move up from 4A to 5A. Class 2A Aubrey should jump to Class 3A, and fellow 2A school Pilot Point, which won a state title in football in 2009, could also rise to 3A.
If the 4A-5A cutoff number takes a rare drop, Rockwall, Denton Guyer and Samuell could move up from 4A to 5A.
If the cutoff number rises as expected, four area Class 5A schools are locks to drop to 4A: Carrollton Creekview, Mansfield Summit, Molina and Wylie. Keller Fossil Ridge could also fall from 5A to 4A if the 4A-5A cutoff number increases by 84 or more (it jumped by 100 in 2008).
Garland Lakeview, Grapevine, Richland, Saginaw and Weatherford turned in enrollment numbers that will have them teetering on the 4A-5A borderline.
Molina turned in a 4A enrollment number last time but petitioned the UIL to remain in 5A. Johnson said that won't happen this time around, which will leave the Dallas ISD with only three 5A programs: Skyline, Sunset and W.T. White.
Also in the Dallas ISD, A. Maceo Smith is set to drop from 4A to 3A, and 4A Lincoln could become a 3A school for the first time. The 3A-4A cutoff number last time was 979, and Lincoln turned in 1,015 so it could be close (the 3A-4A cutoff number climbed by 30 in 2008). Lincoln is a 4A state power in basketball and would be a nearly impossible matchup at the 3A level.
The area has six new schools that will begin playing varsity football in the fall. They'll be placed in districts for the first time.
Four of those new schools are set to begin play in Class 4A: Frisco Heritage, Keller Timber Creek, Trophy Club Byron Nelson (Northwest ISD) and Wylie East. Frisco Lone Star and North Forney will be in Class 3A.
In the Dallas ISD, Spruce will play football again beginning in the fall and will do so in 4A.
Though coaches can make an educated guess on what class they'll be in, most say it's impossible to determine which teams will be in their districts. After all, the UIL keeps that information under lock and key in Austin.
"I've been in the business too long to try to speculate where we might go," Mansfield ISD athletic director Debbie Weems said. "We'll let the chips fall where they may."
And when they do Monday morning, expect fist-pumps and grimaces in one wave of emotion at the Birdville Fine Arts/Athletic Complex.
"It's wild," Rockwall ISD athletic director Scott Smith said, "but it's fun and exciting."
How the cutoff enrollment number for Class 3A, 4A and 5A schools has changed over the last 10 UIL biennial realignments:
School years 5A 4A Change* 3A Change* 2008-2010 2,085 & up 980 to 2,084 +100 430 to 979 +30 2006-2008 1,985 & up 950 to 1,984 +60 415 to 949 +50 2004-2006 1,925 & up 900 to 1,924 +15 390 to 899 - 2002-2004 1,910 & up 900 to 1,909 +45 345 to 899 +55 2000-2002 1,865 & up 845 to 1,864 +85 345 to 844 +65 1998-2000 1,780 & up 780 to 1,779 +130 345 to 779 +80 1996-1998 1,650 & up 700 to 1,649 +50 305 to 699 15 1994-1996 1,600 & up 715 to 1,599 +90 295 to 714 - 1992-1994 1,510 & up 715 to 1,509 +50 285 to 714 +25 1990-1992 1,460 & up 690 to 1,459 10 285 to 689 50
*The change represents the difference in the cutoff point for 4A-5A schools and 3A-4A schools from the previous realignment.
ON THE MOVE?
Area high schools' athletic programs that could move up or down in classification Monday, when the UIL announces its biennial realignment and reclassification for the school years of 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 (This takes into account what the cutoff numbers were for each classification last time and that those numbers are likely to rise, which has typically been the case):
School Now Move? Comment Aubrey 2A 3A Last 3A-2A cutoff was 429. Aubrey turned in 476 Mans. Legacy 4A 5A School's only a few years old and rising in growing suburb Mans. Timberview 4A 5A Three Mansfield 5As could land with five Arlington 5As Midlothian 4A 5A A lock. Midlothian could have two high schools someday Pilot Point 2A 3A 2A football champs may be safe after turning in 431
School Now Move? Comment A. Maceo Smith 4A 3A This one is pretty much a lock to happen Carr. Creekview 5A 4A 5A-4A cut last time was 2,084. Creekview turned in 2,054 Kel. Fossil Ridge 5A 4A Close, because Fossil Ridge turned in 2,168 Lincoln 4A 3A 4A-3A cut last time was 979, and Lincoln turned in 1,015 Mans. Summit 5A 4A Summit is 50 below the last 5A cut Molina 5A 4A Had 4A numbers last time but petitioned to stay at 5A Wylie 5A 4A Wylie East has taken some enrollment from Wylie
NEW TO THE GAME
The area's new high schools that will start playing football in the fall of 2010 and what classification they're projected to begin playing in when the UIL announces its biennial realignment and reclassification for the school years of 2010-2011 and 2011-2012:
School Projected Comment Frisco Heritage 4A Frisco ISD's growth should slow down for a few years. Frisco Lone Star 3A Will be lone 3A school in Frisco ISD Keller Timber Creek 4A Has pulled most students from Fossil Ridge North Forney 3A New school won't make 4A Forney drop in class Tro. Club Byron Nelson 4A Northwest ISD school better be good at golf Wylie East 4A Opening takes enough enrollment to drop Wylie to 4A