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 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 Rowlett, Sachse and Mesquite areas, while also looking ahead to the district’s storylines and subplots for the 2022-23 school year.
1. Pound for pound, what was the best team in the Mesquite, Rowlett and Sachse area?
This was a tough one to gauge this season. Not only were 9-6A, 10-6A and 13-5A some of the toughest districts, top-to-bottom, in the state, the regional road was even more treacherous.
For 6A Region II teams, the prospect of seeing the likes of Duncanville or DeSoto in the area round was a daunting task in many sports, and the Central Texas districts boast several strong programs, as well.
As for 5A Region II, even after getting past the district grind with Highland Park and the two Forney schools, there was the eventual task of running into the Frisco-ISD group from 9-5A, which is arguably the best all-around district in the state.
There were several contenders, as the Horn girls and boys basketball teams each captured 10-6A championships only to run into perennial Dallas powers in the area round.
The same was true for other district champions, such as the Sachse girls basketball and Rowlett boys soccer teams, who each saw their postseason runs end earlier than they had hoped.
The one area team that stood out amongst the rest during the 2021-2022 school year was the Sachse volleyball team.
The Mustangs claimed their ninth district championship in a row, and they did so in undefeated fashion, rolling to a 14-0 record while dropping only one of 43 sets along the way.
Sachse featured plenty of star power, with most valuable player Macy Taylor, offensive player of the year Favor Anyanwu, defensive player of the year Zoria Heard and setter of the year Emily Westbrook.
That talent, along with additional all-district honorees in Kaelynn Sims, Macy Puckett, Camryn Parker, Scarlette Young and Chi Tran, was led by head coach Rikki Jones, who has guided the Mustangs to the playoffs every season since their inaugural campaign in 2004.
After rolling through district, the Mustangs swept both Tyler Legacy and Waco Midway before outlasting 10-6A champion Rockwall in a classic in the regional quarterfinals, claiming a 26-24, 15-25, 25-22, 15-25, 15-12 victory.
That earned Sachse its fourth trip to the Class 6A Region II tournament, and while the road came to an end with a loss to Cypress Bridgeland in the semifinals, it was still a season to remember.
2. How big of an effect did the COVID-19 pandemic have on the 2021-2022 athletics season?
When the pandemic forced Texas high school athletics to come to a grinding half in March 2020, there was plenty of uncertainty regarding sports heading into the fall.
With concerns still high, safety was the primary goal for the University Interscholastic League, but athletic administrators, coaches and the athletes themselves were ready to move forward.
Though there were some issues to be handled, the 2020-2021 athletics year largely went on without any major issues.
The completion of the campaign created a much more optimistic outlook heading into 2021-2022.
Precautions still had to be taken during the last nine months, and while there were isolated incidents that teams had to deal with, the athletic seasons during the past school year largely went on as business as usual.
3. What are the early reactions to the 2022-2024 realignment?
As the population in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex continues to explode, that is reflected on the University Interscholastic League’s biennial realignment.
Not long ago, many local schools did not see very big changes, but with the consistent growth, that is now a rarity to not have at least some change in the landscape.
Assuming they all stay above the Class 6A cutoff, the seven Garland ISD schools know they will be a package deal and that will remain the case during the next two years.
Wylie has been the outlier in the district for the past several years, but the Pirates will get some familiar company going forward, as the city’s growth as allowed Wylie East to move up in classification and they will join the current group to create a nine-team 9-6A in not only football, but all sports.
Wylie has enjoyed its share of success across the board in recent years, but so has Wylie East at the 5A level and it will see if that will translate to the larger classification.
Over in 10-6A, there is a very different look as far as Mesquite ISD is concerned with North Mesquite dropping down to Class 5A.
That leaves Mesquite and Horn as the remaining MISD members in the top classification. Rockwall, Rockwall-Heath and Tyler Legacy, the lone 6A program in East Texas, are also back in 10-6A.
That quintet bids farewell to not only the Stallions, but also Skyline, and they welcome two programs who had some success in 5A but are now making the jump up in North Forney and Royse City.
That leaves the Skeeters and Jaguars having to face off with five other well-rounded programs.
North Mesquite’s drop in classification puts them in the same district as West Mesquite for the first time as they were placed in 7-5A Division I football.
Though the district does say farewell to defending district champion Highland Park, playoff teams Longview, Tyler and McKinney North remain in the fold.
Add in recent powers Lufkin and Lancaster, as well as a good program in Forney and 7-5A Division I football is shaping up to be one of the toughest in the state.
Poteet, meanwhile, remains in 5A Division II in football.
The Pirates enjoyed some success in a largely Dallas ISD district the last two years, but will face a much different landscape in shifting to 7-5A Division II.
Poteet will see an entirely new cast of district rivals with Crandall, Denison, Greenville, Lovejoy, Melissa, Princeton and Terrell.
Lovejoy was a regional finalist season ago in 5A Division II, Denison and Crandall were playoff teams and Melissa makes the jump up after being a perennial contender at the Class 4A level.
As for the other sports, there are also major changes on the horizon for North Mesquite, Poteet and West Mesquite as they join 12-5A.
Gone are strong all-around programs in Highland Park, Forney and North Forney.
Instead, for many sports, the MISD trio should face a more navigable road against a Dallas ISD quintet of Bryan Adams, Conrad, Samuell, Seagoville and Spruce.