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 2021-22 school year.
For some, that means a fresh start as they look to get back on the winning track, while for others, it represents an opportunity to build on what they accomplished in the past year.
Throughout the summer, Star Local Media will reflect on the year that was for the Mesquite, Rowlett and Sachse areas, while also looking ahead to the district’s storylines and subplots for the 2021-22 school year.
1. What effect did realignment have on the area sports scene in 2020-2021?
Every two years, the University Interscholastic League announces its new reclassification and realignment for the state’s public high schools. This impacts most extracurricular activities, but much of the focus falls on athletics.
The addition of new schools has an impact, as do changes in enrollment that results in schools moving up and down in classification. For every addition—or subtraction—the landscape shifts, often quietly, but sometimes dramatically.
There were not a lot of major changes for local school districts in Garland, Mesquite and Frisco, but there were some differences.
The seven GISD programs and Wylie remained intact, but went from 10-6A to 9-6A. That was an important shift within the region in terms of the playoffs. Whereas teams such as Rowlett and Sachse had previously been matched up with the Plano ISD schools, McKinney ISD schools and Allen, most of which are double their size, the bi-district match-up instead pitted them against Mesquite, North Mesquite, and Horn, as well as the two Rockwall programs, Tyler Legacy and Skyline.
The Raiders joining the new 10-6A was the lone change with that group, as they took the place of Longview, who dropped down to Class 5A.
Speaking of 5A, the Frisco ISD district grew to 10 in 2018 with the addition of Lebanon Trail and Memorial and that group remained intact for most sports, guaranteeing the school district of at least four playoff teams.
Over in 13-5A, Poteet and West Mesquite saw some pretty big changes during the last year in terms of the level of competition. The Pirates and Wranglers remained linked with Forney and North Forney, as has been the case for the last several years.
That quartet bid farewell to Lancaster, Kaufman and Terrell. In their place, all-around powerhouse Highland Park returned to the district. They also welcomed a solid program in Royse City, as well as Greenville and Crandall.
Of course, when it comes to football, realignment takes on a whole new form since the UIL decided to split the classes into two divisions in Classes 1A-5A.
Therefore, while the districts themselves in Class 6A remained the same as in all other sports, it was a different story in 5A.
In Mesquite, the most notable change was Poteet and West Mesquite being placed in different districts for the first time since Poteet became a varsity program in 1990-1991.
This was a result in Poteet’s enrollment dropping down to the Class 5A Division II range, while West Mesquite remained in Division I.
The Pirates departed 7-5A Division I along with Texarkana Texas High, leaving the quintet of the Wranglers, McKinney North, Tyler John Tyler, Wylie East and Sherman.
The two new additions were two of the most successful programs in Texas history in Highland Park and Longview, creating one of the toughest districts in the state.
Poteet, conversely, got a much more favorable draw in 6-5A Division II, where it was grouped with eight Dallas ISD schools.
Over in 5-5A Division I, the previous cycle saw six FISD programs in Centennial, Heritage, Independence, Liberty, Lone Star and Wakeland, with The Colony and Little Elm rounding out the group.
Last fall, 5-5A Division I once again featured six FISD teams, with Liberty dropping down and Reedy taking their place. The Colony also remained, but the landscape got much tougher with the addition of two Denton programs, specifically powerhouse Ryan.
Over in 7-5A Division II, Frisco, Lebanon Trail, Liberty and Memorial again faced the likes of Denison, Lake Dallas, Lovejoy and Princeton, with the only change being the addition of Prosper Rock Hill.
FISD found being split into two classifications to its liking overall, as it combined to land five of its 10 programs in the football playoffs.
2. What could the 2022-2024 realignment look like?
The common expression from coaches regarding the biannual realignment was to “expect the unexpected.” Though looking at projections from a geographical standpoint often make sense, the UIL tends to throw a few curve balls into the mix every two years, so speculation at this point is simply that.
With the exception of a few years ago when South Garland decided to opt down to Class 5A due to its enrollment numbers, the seven GISD schools will not be split up.
In fact, there have been times when that group of seven has been its own district, assuring GISD of four playoff teams in every sport. Assuming Wylie East stays in 5A, that leaves Wylie on an island in 6A, and given its geographical status as a neighbor, it makes the most sense for the Pirates to remain linked with GISD in 9-6A, though that number could change depending on how Region 1 is determined.
The current 10-6A group of the three MISD schools and two Rockwall teams has been a unit for quite some time and it is hard to see that changing. As the lone Class 6A program in East Texas, Tyler Legacy finds itself on an island, but it makes the most sense to keep them with programs on the east side of the Metroplex.
Skyline is somewhat of an outlier in that it could be placed in any number of districts and the other thing to keep an eye on is Longview, who has bounced back and forth between 5A and 6A for the last decade, but like Legacy, would find itself as one of the only 6A teams out east, meaning a likely return to 10-6A.
Over in 5A, it will be interesting to see where Poteet’s enrollment falls in regards to football to see if the Pirates rejoin West Mesquite in Division I or remain in Division II.
There is also a big question surrounding the FISD district with the opening of Emerson, the district’s 11th school who will begin varsity play in 2022.
It will probably not have a huge impact in football, where FISD is already split up between divisions.
However, one of the biggest questions is to see what the UIL decides in regards to all other sports.
The current 9-5A is already the state’s largest in 5A with 10 schools and it will be interesting to see if the UIL allows an 11-team district, or it opts to split them up as they do with other large school districts such as Dallas, El Paso and San Antonio.
3. How did Dallas Christian and Frisco Legacy Christian measure up during the last athletics year?
Dallas Christian has historically been among the powerhouses among the state’s private schools.
Since 1983, the Chargers have captured 32 team state championships in 10 different sports, including eight in football and eight in baseball, and many more individual titles.
Though they did not add to that total, Dallas Christian put together another successful all-around campaign.
The Chargers have had some close calls on the gridiron as they continue their pursuit of championship No. 9 and this past fall was another one.
Dallas Christian was dominant during an abbreviated regular season, outscoring their opponents by a combined score of 375-56.
That carried over into the playoffs, as the Chargers rolled over Frisco Legacy Christian in a 59-14 rout, took care of Grapevine Faith Christian in a 34-6 victory and posted a 42-0 shutout of Fort Worth Southwest Christian to advance to the Division II state title game.
The championship was a back-and-forth affair, but Austin Regents was able to do just enough to claim a 26-20 win.
Also in the fall, the Charger volleyball team qualified for the postseason and reached the area round.
Both Dallas Christian basketball teams enjoyed successful seasons.
After nabbing a first-round bye, the Charger girls picked up wins over Grapevine Faith Christian (62-31) and Frisco Legacy Christian (54-38) before dropping a 58-50 decision to Fort Worth Southwest Christian in the Class 5A state semifinals.
The boys, meanwhile, also notched an area championship before falling to Grapevine Faith Christian, 52-48, in the regional finals.
There were plenty of highlights in the spring, as well, as the girls soccer, softball and baseball teams all reached the area round, and the boys golf team placed fourth at the state tournament.