Monday marks the UIL’s biennial reclassification and realignment, where high schools around the state will learn which athletic districts they’ll compete in from 2020-22. It’s an event rife with suspense and speculation — one that essentially lays the groundwork for the next two years in high school athletics.
As Monday inches closer, here are some area-wide realignment storylines pertaining to the high schools in Star Local Media markets.
Will Frisco ISD get split?
Bryan Murphy: In the football districts, expect much of the same from the previous two years for FISD minus Reedy joining the big dogs in Division I and Prosper Rock Hill most likely getting added in the mix to take Reedy’s spot to join Memorial, Lebanon Trail and Frisco.
However, the possibilities are endless in the non-football sports and rumors have circulated that FISD could possibly even split in half to avoid another 10-team district.
It’s no secret that coaches are not very fond of the grueling 18-game district slate that goes along with having 10 teams in a single district, but splitting things up could be tricky.
Do you divide up the district from north and south and split the line somewhere around Main Street, or do you go east and west with either Preston Road or the Dallas North Tollway as the marker.
In those instances, other nearby 5A programs would more than likely be added to the mix, such as McKinney North, The Colony, Lake Dallas and Lovejoy, just to name a few.
But at the same time, don’t be surprised if all of Frisco remains intact for another two years.
Form holding for Plano ISD, Allen?
Matt Welch: While realignment can be a whirlwind for plenty of high schools around the state, the supersized foursome of Allen, Plano East, Plano Senior and Plano West enter the morning with a general idea of what to expect, and that means likely remaining attached at the hip for two more years.
The Allen-PISD quartet has shared a district every realignment cycle since 1998 and little has changed within that corridor of the 6A Metroplex to suggest the UIL breaks tradition.
Geographically, it makes sense for McKinney ISD’s 6A duo to remain alongside those four as well, as has been the case since 2016. Boyd has been linked to PISD and Allen for all but two years since elevating to the UIL’s largest classification in 2008.
The greater mystery has been how the UIL decides to round out the district — be it shipping out Jesuit, bringing in a newcomer like Little Elm or a familiar face in Wylie, or perhaps just opting for a seven-team district rounded out by Prosper — and whether or not the district stays in Region II or rejoins the likes of Lewisville ISD, Southlake Carroll, Duncanville and DeSoto over in Region I.
How tough will West Mesquite’s new district be?
Devin Hasson: For the first time since Poteet opened 30 years ago, the Wranglers and Pirates will be playing in different football districts, with West Mesquite remaining in 5A Division I and Poteet dropping to Division II.
Many early thoughts have the Wranglers being placed in perhaps the toughest district in the state.
MISD schools have traditionally been linked with East Texas, so look for West Mesquite to remain with Tyler John Tyler and they will almost certainly be joined by powerhouse Longview, who drops down from Class 6A.
Wylie East was part of the district the last two years, so they make geographic sense. With many more Division I teams north, expect the Wranglers to be grouped with teams from the south, such as Lancaster, Red Oak and Midlothian.
Another possibility is adding Highland Park to the mix.
That scenario would leave new head coach Frank Sandoval facing a district slate that features six teams who made the playoffs last season, a regional semifinalist (Red Oak), a regional finalist (Lancaster) and a pair of teams just two years removed from state championships (Highland Park and Longview).
Where will Little Elm go?
Bryan Murphy: When the UIL announced its new cutoff numbers for the upcoming realignment, it came as a bit of a surprise that Little Elm would join the state’s highest classification for the next two years in 6A.
Since the Lobos are part of a single-school district, there are many scenarios for the Lobos. However, the plan that makes the most sense is pairing Little Elm with nearby Denton Braswell and the rest of Denton ISD and Lewisville ISD. That means the Lobos could possibly share a district with Braswell, Guyer, Hebron, Lewisville, Flower Mound, Marcus and possibly even Coppell.
Or perhaps the UIL committee takes it easy, so to speak, on Little Elm in its first stint in 6A and groups the Lobos with school districts such Irving ISD and Richardson ISD, which have not had recent postseason success across the board compared to others in the area.
Will Garland ISD and Mesquite ISD see changes in 6A?
Devin Hasson: Naaman Forest and South Garland elected to opt up, meaning the seven GISD programs will remain in the same district in 6A. That leaves the only potential change being the departure of Wylie should the UIL choose to move the Pirates once again.
The current 11-6A will lose Longview, who is dropping down, but it is almost impossible to picture a scenario where Mesquite, North Mesquite, Horn, Rockwall, Rockwall-Heath and Tyler Lee do not remain together.
That would leave six teams in the district, making it more likely to add one of the “floating” programs such as Skyline as the lone 6A team in DISD, private school Jesuit, or possibly both.
Those two are also an option for the GISD district should Wylie be moved.
Shuffling the deck in Denton County
Matt Welch: If history is any indication, several Denton-area high schools could be in for some change on Monday.
In 6A, Lewisville ISD’s four-school cluster is bound together, but filling out the remainder of its district has featured a brand-new cast of opponents the past three realignment cycles, from Plano ISD, Allen and McKinney in 2014-16, to Southlake Carroll, Euless Trinity, L.D. Bell and Trophy Club Byron Nelson in 2016-18, and the current grouping with Coppell and Irving ISD.
Coppell, whose flexibility as a single-school district makes it a perennial candidate for change each realignment cycle, knows that feeling all to well. The Cowboys have been dealt a gamut of outcomes over the years, sharing districts with Richardson ISD, Birdville ISD, Irving ISD, Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD and LISD over the past six years. For all the sensible fits on paper for Coppell, the UIL hasn’t been bashful about throwing the Cowboys a curveball or two over the years.
Ditto for Lake Dallas, which has faced a similar plight in 5A as a single-school district. Expect more change for the Falcons, whose seven-team 8-5A conference is already losing Braswell and Little Elm to 6A.
How different will Poteet’s district look?
Devin Hasson: The Pirates are no longer linked with MISD mate West Mesquite for the first time in three decades as they drop down into Class 5A Division II.
Poteet has been grouped with Forney and North Forney for a majority of the last 15 years, so it’s hard to see a scenario where that will not be a trio once again, and from a geographic standpoint, Crandall makes sense to join that group.
Last cycle, Poteet was placed with teams to the north, including Wylie East and McKinney North, and if that trend continues, Royse City and Princeton are candidates.
In that scenario, Greenville would be a fit and there are also wild cards in play such as Denison, and even Lovejoy.