High school sports tend to be cyclical in nature, especially in districts with multiple schools.
There are a number of different factors that cause the ebbs and flows of a particular program, but the biggest shake-ups often occur when a new school opens.
In Garland ISD, that trend can be traced back to the very first time it split a campus.
Garland High built itself into one of the football powerhouses in Texas, winning state championships in 1956, 1963 and 1964.
However, when South Garland opened in 1964, it siphoned off the city’s resources and the Owls would not return to the same type of success until winning their fourth state title 35 years later in 1999.
Lakeview made the football playoffs five times from 1988-1995, but when Rowlett opened its doors the following spring, enrollment dropped and the Patriots did not return until 2016.
When Sachse opened in 2002 (the Mustangs elected not to play varsity its first two years), the school district’s student base was now spread out amongst seven different campuses.
It is not uncommon for newer schools to experience early success. They are often built in areas where population is booming and there is the added draw of attending the newest school in town, especially in GISD with its choice of school policy.
But while that usually evens out in most school districts, Rowlett and Sachse not only rose to the top of the athletic hierarchy, they have managed to maintain their perch.
The Eagles broke through and made the football playoffs for the first time in 2005 and they have not missed out on the party since, embarking on a GISD record of 14 consecutive appearances.
Sachse’s inaugural trip to the postseason came in 2011 and they have made it seven of the last eight years, including three consecutive undefeated 10-6A championships.
Despite having only one or two non-GISD outsiders in the district at various times, the other football programs have struggled to keep pace.
South Garland has not qualified for the playoffs since 2012 and North Garland’s drought stands at a decade.
Lakeview made back-to-back trips in 2016 and 2017 but that was after enduring the aforementioned 21-year absence and while Naaman Forest has made three straight postseason trips, they only made it four times in the previous 14 years since Sachse opened.
Even Garland, the school district’s bell cow for so many years who made 21 postseason appearances in 23 years from 1993-2015, has not been back since.
What is eye-popping about what Rowlett and Sachse have been able to do is that their excellence extends across all sports and it has been going on for quite some time.
Horn is the youngest school of the five in Mesquite ISD and while it has arguably had the best all-around athletics program in recent years, the other four schools have thrived in certain sports, as well.
Rowlett and Sachse have been able to maintain its grip in nearly every sport.
In addition to football, the Eagles hold GISD records for longest postseason streaks in volleyball (22 years), girls soccer (17 years), boys soccer (17 years), softball (15 years and baseball (20 years).
The Mustangs have never missed the volleyball playoffs since becoming a varsity program in 2004 and their girls basketball, girls soccer, boys soccer, softball and baseball teams have 10 or more appearances during that same time frame.
These programs have not just established themselves as perennial playoff teams, they are battling it out at the top of the standings and do not appear to be showing any signs of slowing down.
This past season, Rowlett and Sachse combined to win at least a share of the 10-6A crown in six of the eight standings-based sports and they captured additional titles in golf, tennis and track and field.
District newcomer Wylie made an impact in its first year, but the other GISD programs have had a hard time making it to the top.
Since 2012, Rowlett and Sachse have won at least a share of 43 district championships in the standings-based sports. The other five schools have combined to win only 13 titles, with seven of those coming in boys basketball.
Nothing lasts forever and the athletics landscape will certainly shift at some point, but for the foreseeable future, the two youngest high schools continue to set the standard in GISD.