Written by SportsDayDFW.com
State semifinalists Guyer, Stephenville benefiting tremendously from move down in classification
Denton Guyer was the overwhelming Class 4A favorite when the 2012 season began.
After reaching the 5A playoffs in back-to-back seasons, including a state championship appearance in 2010, Guyer was moved back down to 4A when the UIL districts were realigned in February.
Its winning tradition and 4A numbers advantage made Guyer a logical favorite, and it received 13 of 25 first-place votes in The Associated Press preseason poll.
Similarly, in Class 3A, Stephenville was the odds-on favorite after moving down from 4A. It was a 4A regional finalist in 2011 and received 15 of 25 first-place votes before the 2012 season.
Both Guyer and Stephenville proved they could win with a numbers disadvantage, so it seemed safe to say that both would win when the numbers game played in their favor.
Neither team has disappointed.
“There’s no doubt there’s strength in numbers,” Guyer coach John Walsh said. “I’ve always said the top 20 teams in 4A or 5A can all beat each other. I’ve been in both.”
Large enrollment numbers afford football teams greater depth. Teams can rest tired players, are able to accommodate injuries and have greater competition in practice.
Georgetown, El Campo and Italy are also proving there’s strength in numbers. All three moved down in classification before the 2012 season — Georgetown to 4A, El Campo to 3A and Italy to A. Like Guyer and Stephenville, they’re all still battling for a state championship.
“You’re talking about a bunch of schools that have had a great deal of success, regardless of classification,” Stephenville coach Joseph Gillespie said. “They’ve won regardless of where they’ve been.”
In other words: There’s no substitute for tradition and talent, which can overcome smaller numbers.
When tradition and talent are combined with large numbers, though, you get something like this postseason, with a plethora of newly realigned schools dominating their divisions.
Guyer, Georgetown, Stephenville and El Campo have combined for three losses this year. Guyer has two, both of which came against 5A squads. Stephenville’s loss came against Monterrey (Mexico) Tech in the season opener.
Guyer’s enrollment is 2,064 — roughly 150 more students than its next largest district foe, and 800 more than Lake Dallas, the smallest school in District 5-4A.
Stephenville, with an enrollment of 999, is the largest school in Class 3A.
It should be noted that a numbers advantage alone isn’t a guarantee of success. Of the 27 schools in Class 4A with enrollments of 2,000 or more, 12 missed the playoffs this year.
For other schools, the numbers advantage makes all the difference. Lubbock High was dropped to Class 4A this season and made the playoffs for the first time since 1975.
Cedar Hill made the 5A cutoff by just 22 students in February. Despite its small numbers, Cedar Hill survived a grueling schedule to reach the playoffs and this weekend’s Division II state semifinals.
If coach Joey McGuire’s team drops to 4A in future realignments, McGuire said he wouldn’t petition up.
“I’m one of those guys who if I’m 5A, I want to play 5A,” McGuire said, “and if I’m 4A, I want to play 4A. I don’t want to petition up.”
And if Cedar Hill is a 5A power now, a future in 4A would almost certainly be bright.
Follow David Just on Twitter at @DavidJustDMN.
Down is good
Several schools that dropped down in classification this season have been better for it:
2011 record (Class)