Plano Senior Oliver Towns

Plano Senior junior Oliver Towns and the Wildcats barely missed the playoffs last season, and the road back to the postseason doesn’t figure to get much easier with Lewisville and Coppell in District 6-6A next season.

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 2020-21 school year.

For many, that’ll mean making the move to a new district, and schools like Plano ISD, Lewisville ISD and Coppell are no different. The PISD trio broke away from their longtime rivals in Allen and McKinney and link up with LISD and Coppell in a revamped District 6-6A.

Throughout the summer, Star Local Media will reflect on the year that was for 6-6A’s eight schools while also looking ahead to the district’s storylines and subplots for the 2020-21 school year.

1. Who are the winners and losers of the new 6-6A alignment?

Honestly, it’s tough to pick out a winner in a district that figures to be as well rounded as 6-6A. It might feel like a stretch, considering no team from the city qualified for the playoffs last season, but there’s a small case for Plano ISD football having a new lease on life now that it’s out from under the Allen-sized glass ceiling for at least two seasons.

But then ask yourself which LISD football team is anyone from PISD demonstrably better than right now, and the grass might not exactly be that much greener in 6-6A.

Dig a bit deeper, and there’s a chance the new scenery could brighten things up for Plano West tennis. The Wolves have lorded over any district they’ve resided in for years, but between West, Allen, Round Rock Westwood and The Woodlands, Region II-6A was practically  its own state tournament these past two seasons. Region I doesn’t project to be as daunting this fall.

On the other side of the coin, swapping out Irving ISD for the three PISD schools is only going to amplify the playoff race in practically every sport. LISD and Coppell mostly battled it out amongst themselves for the district’s four playoff spots over the past two seasons.

Expect a bit more resistance with PISD now along for the ride.

2. What lies ahead in 6-6A cross country in 2020?

There aren’t too many school districts in the state as credentialed on the cross country circuit as Lewisville ISD. Between LISD and Coppell, they’ve placed 13 teams in the top five of the state meet over the past five years, including state championships for Coppell and Marcus during that span.

Expect several of those programs to duke it out once again, be it Flower Mound sophomore Natalie Cook, who placed fifth at state last year, or Coppell juniors Morgan Colon and Chloe Hassman on the girls side, or Cowboys junior Evan Caswell, who logged a fourth-place run at state last season.

Plano East has been on the upswing, placing second in 9-6A and finishing 10th at regionals, and has promising one-two punch in junior Travis Jasper and sophomore Hudson Heikkinen to lead the way. Plano West freshman Sibelle Zambie is another name to watch after advancing to regionals in her first varsity campaign.

But the cross country postseason projects as one of the toughest across the entire athletics calendar for PISD. Not only will the presence of LISD and Coppell make the district meet feels like regionals, but the actual Region I-6A race will mean competing against athletes from the likes of Southlake Carroll, Prosper and Allen. 

3. From Plano ISD’s perspective, what sport is impacted the most by being realigned with Lewisville ISD and Coppell?

The most realistic answer is probably cross country, given the depth of talent in LISD and Coppell’s programs, but since that was already covered above, let’s pivot to the pitch. 

PISD isn’t lacking in pedigree when it comes to soccer — sporting a few of the most successful programs in state history. But the present casts a favorable light on schools like Flower Mound, Marcus and Coppell — all of whom have qualified a soccer team for the state tournament within the past three seasons.

The Lady Jaguars went undefeated in 2020, the Cowgirls began the year ranked tops in the country, and Marcus is the only soccer program in the state to have its boys and girls teams ranked in the nation’s top 25 by Top Drawer Soccer.

Furthermore, the recent closure of the U.S. Developmental Academy could only amplify the talent pool for those programs if they’re able to roster club players whose club commitments precluded them from playing in high school in previous year.

4. Which 6-6A sport is impacted the most by the addition of Plano ISD?

PISD has enjoyed its share of success in girls basketball and has two teams in Plano Senior and Plano East that have the ammunition to contend for a district championship next season. The Lady Wildcats graduate just two players from a roster that advanced to the regional finals earlier this year and the Lady Panthers have their entire starting five back — several of whom project to be college prospects.

It’ll amplify the playing field in 6-6A even with the departure of two-time district champion Irving MacArthur. Flower Mound still has the towering frontcourt of Madison Cox and Sarah Edmondson, and Lewisville lost very little from a team that pulled a bi-district upset of top-10 ranked Keller last season.

But expectations are lofty at Plano and East over these next couple of seasons, and they’re bringing two very talented teams to 6-6A.

For continued news and coverage on the local sports scene, follow Matt Welch on Twitter.

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