Written by Corbett Smith
Corbett Smith: Enrollment gaffe leaves 11-3A, 12-3A coaches scrambling
It’s tough to get ready for the postseason, especially when teams don’t know their playoff opponents heading into the final week of the season.
In that situation, coaches normally send out multiple groups of scouts, trying to cover as many bases as possible.
But that wasn’t the case for Districts 11-3A and 12-3A heading into last week’s games.
The playoff matchups, it was believed, were already decided heading into Week 10.
Lovejoy would play Wilmer-Hutchins in Division I, with the Division II games featuring Prosper vs. Roosevelt and Madison vs. Princeton.
Coaches had already called each other during the week, setting up playoff sites, sending out scouts and arranging times to swap film after Friday’s games.
Everything looked good … until about 5 p.m. last Friday.
That’s when DISD discovered that the enrollment numbers that the district was using to separate its teams into Divisions I and II were incorrect.
All the assumed playoff pairings were wrong, adding another wrinkle to an already hectic week of preparation.
“Yeah, it was definitely strange,” Princeton coach Stacey Dillard said.
The confusion spawned from the reopening of Wilmer-Hutchins this year.
Instead of using the numbers that DISD submitted to the UIL in the spring — with Wilmer-Hutchins’ expected enrollment of 715 — the district was mistakenly using the actual enrollment numbers, making Wilmer-Hutchins the largest school in the playoffs — and subsequently, the lone team in the Division I.
The district contacted the UIL on Friday afternoon, and was told that it should be using the earlier estimated number.
To compound the confusion, the UIL had not updated the alignment numbers on its website, making double-checking by the other school districts impossible. Coaches and administrators from Prosper and Princeton had looked at the site earlier in the week to figure out which team would go in each division. Wilmer-Hutchins wasn’t listed. A. Maceo Smith — the school Wilmer-Hutchins replaced in 12-3A after Smith closed at the end of the 2010-11 school year — was listed, with an enrollment figure of 865.
Princeton’s Dillard, Prosper coach Kent Scott and Prosper athletic director Ronny Mullins all said they assumed Wilmer-Hutchins simply slid into Smith’s place with the same enrollment, since the schools share essentially the same student body.
Once the error was discovered, the teams played musical chairs: Madison, now the largest playoff school in 12-3A, moved up to Division I to face Lovejoy. Wilmer-Hutchins fell to the runner-up spot in Division II and a game against Prosper, while Roosevelt flipped to the higher seed and a matchup against Princeton.
UIL athletic director Mark Cousins said the switch was the correct response, given that the decision fell before the UIL’s Saturday certification deadline.
The new pairings meant that some teams didn’t get scouts to the correct game.
Roosevelt had sent scouts to watch the Prosper vs. Princeton game, only to be informed right before the game to change their focus from Prosper to Princeton. Lovejoy was in a similar situation, and was able to switch its attention to Madison in its game vs. Wilmer-Hutchins.
Princeton, though, was unable to make a switch to watch Roosevelt, which had played the night before.
Dillard said he would have preferred to have “a set of eyes” on Roosevelt. The game tape doesn’t always tell the full story, he said.
“But the film is the next best thing,” Dillard said.
Even Madison coach Ronald Johnson — perhaps dealt the cruelest blow by moving up to a tougher division and first-round opponent in Lovejoy — didn’t complain.
“I guess you could look at it differently, but anyone you are going to play this time of year is going to be tough,” Johnson said. “We’ve seen Tatum, we’ve seen Gilmer. You’re going to have to face ’em. Now, we’ll see Lovejoy.”
11-3A vs. 12-3A
Division I: Lovejoy vs. Wilmer-Hutchins
Division II: Prosper vs. Roosevelt; Princeton vs. Madison
Division I: Lovejoy vs. Madison
Division II: Prosper vs. Wilmer-Hutchins; Princeton vs. Roosevelt