John Mateer

Little Elm quarterback John Mateer totaled 400 yards of offense and five touchdowns in the Lobos’ 59.56 overtime win over Prosper.

The end of one chapter gives way to the start of another, and such is the case as teams around the state begin preparations for the 2022-23 school year.

For many, that’ll mean making the move to a new district. Schools like Allen, Prosper, Little Elm, McKinney Boyd and McKinney, however, will share the same district for at least two more years.

The UIL's biennial realignment dealt those five high schools a similar district make-up, again slotted into 5-6A alongside Denton Guyer and Denton Braswell while also welcoming upstart Prosper Rock Hill to Class 6A.

Throughout the summer, Star Local Media will reflect on the year that was for 5-6A’s seven schools while also looking ahead to what lies in store for 2022-23.

1. Pound-for-pound, what was the best overall team in 5-6A in 2021-22?

Matt Welch: Allen wrestling technically falls under the 6-6A banner, so that rules the state's decade-plus grappling dynasty out of consideration for this one.

Here's a strange nugget from the 2021-22 school year: Of the 5-6A district champions across the eight true team sports, three of them were eliminated in the bi-district round. Part of that is due to lining up against a likely overqualified No. 4 seed in the neighboring district, 6-6A, but that was a fate that fell upon Guyer volleyball, Prosper girls soccer and Prosper softball this year.

The two eliminations for the Lady Eagles were hard-luck outcomes for both programs, who entered the playoffs after going undefeated in district play.

Across those eight sports, only one other team in 5-6A went unbeaten during district play. Denton Braswell girls basketball managed to do in just its second year as a 6A program and looked quite impressive in doing so.

The Lady Bengals won nine district ballgames by double digits and no team in the conference finished within less than seven points on the scoreboard. Braswell posted an average margin of victory of 22.1 points versus 5-6A, and the Lady Bengals carried that dominance into the playoffs by advancing five rounds deep to the regional finals.

The Braswell girls married both regular-season and postseason success, going unbeaten in district play and parlaying that into a program-best playoff run.

2. What lies ahead in 5-6A tennis in 2022?

Matt Welch: To be fair, Allen's tennis team would be a valid candidate for the above as well.

Through two seasons in 5-6A, the Eagles have been in a league of their own on the tennis courts. Allen scorched its way through its district for the second consecutive year, going unbeaten against 5-6A and posting a collective record of 111-3 against conference opponents during the regular season.

Allen followed that up by going a combined 20-1 against Guyer and Prosper in the district tournament.

Allen did so with a balanced roster, sporting nine seniors, nine juniors, eight sophomores and four freshmen during the 2021-22 season. Of those departing seniors, only four saw the court during West's regional quarterfinal appearance against Plano West.

With names like senior Tejas Ram and junior Chelsie Son back to anchor the boys and girls lineups, respectively, Allen remains a head-and-shoulders favorite over the rest of 5-6A for the time being.

The rest of the district made up some ground during the spring, however. Prosper sophomore Presley Churchman had an impressive varsity debut, teaming with alum Drew John to win a spring district title in mixed doubles, while senior Cameron Youtsey finished as runner-up in boys singles for the Eagles.

Ditto for McKinney Boyd seniors Anna Pallares and Ava Patterson, who teamed up to win silver in girls doubles during the spring season.

3. Which sport(s) will the addition of Prosper Rock Hill impact the most?

David Wolman: There will be plenty to look forward to with the addition of Rock Hill to District 5-6A, but the biggest impact will be felt on the softball field.

In just its second year as a program, the Blue Hawks qualified for the Class 5A state tournament. In one of two state semifinal games, Rock Hill took an early 2-0 lead against Montgomery Lake Creek, ranked No. 2 in the nation by MaxPreps. But the Lady Lions stormed back, scoring the game’s final eight runs to win 8-2.

Rock Hill closed out its year at 33-10. The Blue Hawks prefaced their run to state by defeating Frisco Lone Star (8-0, 10-0), Woodrow Wilson (7-0, 16-0), Frisco Heritage (4-2), Forney (4-5, 7-1, 4-3) and Royse City (9-0, 1-0).

The Blue Hawks stuffed the District 10-5A team with five superlative winners and Leigh Anne Budd was named head coach of the year. Veronica Cully (offensive player of the year), Jolie Malan (defensive player of the year) and Ella Berlage (newcomer of the year) are all slated to return next season, looking to guide the Blue Hawks back to the state tournament.

4. What was the best district game played between 5-6A schools in 2021-22?

Matt Welch: There was plenty to look forward to on the gridiron during 5-6A play, but the matchup that wound up swinging the balance of the district championship race once again was Allen versus Guyer, both of whom ranked in the state's top 11 entering the Oct. 16 meeting in Denton.

Allen's up-and-down play during the first half of the season added to the suspense of this one, while Guyer was seeking its first-ever victory over the Eagles.

Allen wound up taking a 38-31 ballgame in hostile territory, winning a game that produced just short of 1,000 yards of offense. The difference maker was Guyer's troubles against the Eagles' physical run game — Jaylen Jenkins scored on a 75-yard run on the game's first play, setting the tone for a night that saw the Eagles pile up 357 rushing yards on nearly 9 yards per carry.

David Wolman: There were plenty of football games that could be considered best district game, but for me, it was hard to top a shootout between Prosper and Little Elm in the first week of the 5-6A portion of the schedule.

In a battle of 5-6A heavyweights, visiting Little Elm hung on to beat host Prosper 59-56 in overtime in a game that delivered all that it was billed to be at Prosper’s Children’s Health Stadium.

It was the district opener for both squads, and with all the hype and anticipation, it did not disappoint.

The two teams totaled almost 1,000-yards of total offense, but it was Tyson Bope’s 31-yard field goal in the extended period that secured the win for the Lobos.

Lobos quarterback John Mateer, a Washington State signee, and Eagles signal-caller Harrison Rosar put on quite the show. Mateer amassed 400 yards of total offense and five touchdowns, while Rosar threw for 218 yards and two scores and also ran for 70 yards and three more touchdowns on the evening.

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