NORTH RICHLAND HILLS — After competing in the same athletic district for the past 20-plus years, Allen and Plano ISD are going their separate ways.
For the first time since 1997, the four largest high schools in the state will share a different district in what was one of numerous ripple effects across the Metroplex stemming from the UIL’s biennial realignment on Monday.
Allen’s new home resides in District 5-6A, where the Eagles will join a first-time grouping of Denton Braswell, Denton Guyer, Little Elm, McKinney, McKinney Boyd and Prosper, while Plano ISD’s trio of Plano East, Plano Senior and Plano West will welcome some familiar faces in the four Lewisville ISD schools — Flower Mound, Hebron, Lewisville and Marcus — as well as all-around powerhouse Coppell as part of 6-6A.
“I never thought they’d ever separate us (and the Plano schools), especially when you consider the proximity of being just 5 miles apart and the size of their high schools compared to ours,” said Steve Williams, Allen ISD athletic director. “When you’ve got the four largest high schools in the state that close to each other, I never would have guessed we’d get separated.”
That will indeed be the case, with Allen set to forge rivalries both new and old – still bound to its longtime McKinney ISD bunkmates, as well as Prosper, which has kept pace with the Eagles as one of the most consistent, all-around athletic programs in the pair’s current 9-6A alignment since making the jump to Class 6A.
Those four schools will be joined by Guyer, which shared a district with Allen and MISD from 2016-18, plus a pair of 6A newcomers in Braswell and Little Elm. Despite the different surroundings, the Bengals and Lobos won’t lack in familiarity among each other after sharing the same district in the majority of the non-football sports in 8-5A.
“It’ll be interesting. It’s going to cause a little more travel for us,” Williams said. “Going to that side of the Metroplex, the mileage isn’t a big deal, but the traffic is the concern. It’s going to be a little challenging, especially with start times being pushed back, but we’ll work through it.”
PISD, meanwhile, reunites with LISD for the first time since 2016 and welcomes Coppell as a district partner for the first time to form another conference chalked in balance across all sports.
“We’re right in the middle of it. Plano’s on one side and us and the rest of the Lewisville schools are on another,” said Brian Brazil, Hebron head football coach. “It’s a good district. They’re all good-sized schools. I knew we were going to be with our other Lewisville schools, but I was pretty surprised we ended up with Plano again.”
“My brother (Plano head football coach Jaydon McCullough) has played against Hebron for a while now and our last game against them was actually a playoff game a few years ago,” added Joey McCullough, East head football coach. “With Lewisville, we’ve seen them and Coppell on video the last couple years getting ready for our district opponents. Great competition, good teams.”
Just as notable for Allen and PISD is shifting back to Region I after a two-year stay in Region II, which creates a myriad of a different outlooks come postseason time. As is, the neighboring districts of 5-6A and 6-6A will square off in the bi-district round, which made scheduling non-district games a bit of a hurdle in some respects on Monday.
“That’s the crazy thing about it all. That whole playoff cycle, that’s where the non-district kind of gets you because of who you could play in the first week of the playoffs,” McCullough said. “We play Allen in Week One and then there’s the opportunity that we could play again.”
Meanwhile, Region II will continue to occupy Garland ISD and Mesquite ISD — neither of whom had their districts altered much on Monday. Rowlett and Sachse maintained their exact alignment alongside GISD bunkmates Garland, Lakeview Centennial, Naaman Forest, North Garland and South Garland, as well as Wylie.
The Mesquite trio of Mesquite, Horn and North Mesquite, meanwhile, will continue to square off against Rockwall ISD’s duo of Rockwall and Rockwall-Heath, as well as Tyler Lee, while also welcoming Dallas Skyline into the mix to fill the shoes of Longview, which dropped down to 5A.