The only certainty involving the University Interscholastic League’s biennial reclassification and realignment is that will be plenty of surprises.
That was the case once again this morning as the UIL revealed its districts for 2022-2024.
Here are the new local districts and some quick thoughts about what the future holds.
Prosper Rock Hill
Matt Welch: After years of being thrown curveballs during realignment, be it splitting up Allen and Plano ISD in 2020 or the random insertion of a school like Guyer or Jesuit in 2018, form more or less holds in both 5-6A and 6-6A.
The notable addition to 5-6A is Rock Hill, which makes the jump to 6A for what will be just its third year in varsity athletics. With Prosper and Rock Hill tethered to each other, it's a seamless move to just slot the Blue Hawks in to round out the initial 5-6A alignment and create an eight-team district. Plus, two more years of the three-way tug of war between Allen, Prosper and Guyer will be loads of fun across all sports.
From an on-field perspective, 5-6A was arguably the top football district, top to bottom, in the area last season with three teams advancing to at least the regional finals. It's a tough draw for the programs involved, but few districts sport a better iron-sharpens-iron element than 5-6A.
David Wolman: Just like Coppell, Little Elm finds itself in the same district as in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years -- minus the addition of Rock Hill, which will move up to 6A in just its third season as a program.
The addition to Rock Hill to 5-6A means that football teams like Little Elm will have one fewer non-district game in each of the next two years.
Matt Welch: It's admittedly a little curious that the UIL is once again keeping Allen and Plano ISD, two neighboring school districts who combine for four of the five largest high schools in the state, apart for another alignment cycle.
But there won't be a lack of familiarity over the next two years in 6-6A. The district is running it back with the same eight schools in the same region, which means more high-level competition across most sports.
Specifically for football, form holding is good news for Lewisville ISD. Over the past two seasons in 6-6A, LISD accounted for six of the conference's eight total playoff berths, including a clean sweep in 2021 with Marcus, Lewisville, Hebron and Flower Mound all qualifying.
Only one PISD football team qualified for the postseason during that span (Plano West, 2020).
David Wolman: Coppell ISD athletic director Kit Pehl said to always expect the unexpected when it comes to UIL district realignment. And he was right.
Several media outlets projected Coppell to be in a district along with Lewisville, Flower Mound, Marcus, Denton Guyer, Denton Braswell and Little Elm, while Prosper Rock Hill's jump to Class 6A would move Plano ISD out of District 6-6A.
But nope, no changes were made.
District 6-6A will still be comprised of Coppell, Flower Mound, Lewisville, Marcus, Plano, Plano East and Plano West.
Devin Hasson: While Garland ISD would like nothing more than to have its own district, this comes as no surprise. Neighboring Wylie has been linked with the GISD schools in recent years and with Wylie East making the jump up from 5A, it is a natural addition.
East enjoyed some success a few years ago but has fallen on some tough times on the gridiron with only nine wins in the last five years.
Devin Hasson: Though it is strange to not see North Mesquite in this 6A district, the quintet of Horn, Mesquite, Rockwall, Rockwall-Heath and Tyler Legacy remains intact.
Some always ask about the inclusion of Tyler Legacy in a Metroplex district, but Legacy is the lone 6A program in East Texas.
In addition to the departure of the Stallions as they drop down in classification, Skyline is out and North Forney and Royse City join the mix as they move up from 5A. North Forney has made one playoff appearance in the last four years, while Royse City has three straight berths.
District 3-5A Div. I
Fort Worth South Hills
White Settlement Brewer
David Wolman: Talk about a seismic change. Gone are the Frisco ISD schools from the The Colony's schedule with Frisco's jump in divisions in 5A. Although the Cougars will continue to play Denton Ryan, they will be in a juggernaut of a football district.
District 3-5A Div. I will be loaded. The addition of 10-time state champion Aledo will provide a lot of firepower and expect the Raiders and Bearcats to be among the top teams in the state.
The Colony will have a lot of traveling. Azle, Burleson Centennial, Fort Worth South Hills, Justin Northwest, Saginaw and White Settlement Brewer comprise the remainder of 3-5A Division I.
District 5-5A Div. I
Matt Welch: Newman Smith and RL Turner retain four opponents from their previous 6-5A Div. I alignment in Adams, Molina, Sunset and White, but swap out the trio of Lancaster, Samuell and Woodrow Wilson for Birdville, Richland and Mansfield Timberview.
It's definitely a more jagged alignment geographically with some added mileage tacked on for road games at Birdville ISD Fine Art/Athletics Complex and either of the two Mansfield ISD stadiums (Vernon Newsom and RL Anderson).
Whereas Smith, Turner and Dallas ISD schools in 6-5A Div. I spent two years staring up at Lancaster, don't be surprised if Timberview fills that role. The Wolves are coming off back-to-back regional semifinal campaigns, going 19-7 combined over those two seasons.
District 6-5A Div. I
Frisco Lebanon Trail
Frisco Lone Star
Devin Hasson: Frisco ISD nearly got a Division I district of its own, with eight FISD teams joined by Sherman. Centennial, Heritage, Lone Star, Reedy and Wakeland remain together, while that group loses FISD mate Independence and welcomes Frisco, Lebanon Trail and Liberty.
The path to the district title and the playoffs certainly gets easier with the departure of perennial powerhouse Denton Ryan and The Colony was also a solid program, and while Sherman has made the postseason in three of the last five seasons, it has not won more than six games in a season since 2012.
Something has to give, as Lone Star, Wakeland, Reedy, Frisco and Liberty were all playoff teams a season ago, but at least one of those teams will be left out of the mix next season.
District 7-5A Div. I
Matt Welch: One of the more geographically polarizing districts from realignment, McKinney North is staring down some gaudy travel with another 7-5A Div. I iteration that pairs Dallas-area schools with a few outliers eastward.
After two years making trips to Tyler and Longview, both of which are at least 125 miles from North's campus, the Bulldogs now add Lufkin to the docket. Lufkin is more than 200 miles from McKinney, and the two campuses are approximately three hours and 40 minutes apart.
Geographically, the closest 7-5A Div. I schools to Lufkin are Tyler and Longview at roughly 90 miles.
Lufkin also brings a quality pedigree to the gridiron with 23 consecutive playoff appearances from 1998-2020.
Devin Hasson: The new 7-5A Div. I has some familiar faces, with West Mesquite, McKinney North, Longview and Tyler remaining together. The latter three of that group all made the playoffs last season. There will be a new favorite with the departure of Highland Park, who did not lose a game in capturing the last two district championships.
Lancaster rolled to an undefeated district championship last season but will be facing much stiffer competition. Forney is coming off a playoff appearance a season ago. Lufkin might not be the powerhouse it has been in the past, but will still be in the mix, and it also adds an interesting travel component, as it is 170 miles from Mesquite.
District 3-5A Div. II
Matt Welch: One of the notable storylines heading into realignment centered around Argyle, the longstanding 4A powerhouse at last making the move to 5A. The Eagles land in a district that includes only one program (Creekview) that qualified for the playoffs last season.
But this will be a notable change of scenery for the Mustangs, who after spending two years battling it out with Fort Worth ISD, return to the more Dallas-friendly district. On paper, it's a tougher draw for Creekview from a competitive standpoint, given the pedigrees of Argyle and Frisco ISD.
Devin Hasson: Emerson’s inaugural football campaign will present it with some interesting challenges. It will also be a new experience for Independence and Memorial, as the Knights drop down from Division I, and the trio of FISD teams make the move to Region I.
The district will attract its fair share of attention if for no other reason than this is where perennial powerhouse Argyle landed. The Eagles have won at least 11 games in 13 consecutive seasons, capturing a pair of state championships along the way, but now must prove that will carry over as they make the move up in classification.
David Wolman: Lake Dallas got a good draw with being placed in District 3-5A Div. II. The Falcons will no longer have to worry about Frisco, Denison, Lovejoy and Rock Hill and will be in a seven-team district after being in a nine-team district in each of the last two seasons.
Eleven-time Lone Star Cup winner Argyle should be the favorite to win the district crown in football after a dominant run in 4A.
District 7-5A Div. II
Matt Welch: There's some modest carryover from the previous iteration of 7-5A Div. II with Lovejoy, Denison and Princeton, but there's a wealth of change elsewhere.
The Leopards have previous experience sharing a district with Greenville (2012-13), Poteet (2016-17) and Melissa (2008-09) and squared off against Crandall and Terrell in the playoffs. Fresh off back-to-back district championships and regional finals appearances, Lovejoy is still positioned as the on-paper favorite out of this conference.
The most intriguing of the new additions, however, could be Melissa. The Cardinals will be making their debut as a 5A program and stacked up among the best in 4A last season. Melissa advanced at least three rounds deep in the playoffs four of the past five seasons, including a regional finals run last year after upsetting top-ranked Argyle.
Devin Hasson: Poteet’s path to the playoffs got a lot tougher. Sure, the Pirates shared a district with reigning state champion South Oak Cliff for the last two seasons, but beyond the Bears, Poteet was clearly the second-best team.
During the next two seasons, the Pirates will have seven new district opponents. Lovejoy probably enters as the favorite coming off its regional finalist season, and Crandall, Greenville and Princeton shift over from other Division II districts.
Melissa will be an interesting team to watch. Last season, the Cardinals defeated Argyle on their way to a district championship, but they, along with Terrell, are making the jump up from Class 4A.
District 7-4A Div. I
Frisco Panther Creek
Matt Welch: Celina's move to Division I was imminent, but the timing works out well for the Bobcats. With fellow powerhouse programs Argyle and Melissa making the jump to 5A, Celina slides into 4A Div. I and into a district that should play into its favor.
Save for a 36-27 upset loss to Aubrey to kick off its 2020 district slate, the Bobcats made short work of their opposition in 4-4A Div. II over the past two seasons.
There will be opportunities in 7-4A Div. I for Celina to impose a similar will. Carter has the strongest playoff pedigree of the lot but hasn't won a playoff game since 2012, and Hutchins, while qualifying for the playoffs 10 of 11 years since reopening in 2011, has been out of the first round just twice over that span.
The Bobcats, for comparison's sake, have been to at least the regional round of the postseason each of the past eight years.
District 6-4A Div. II
Devin Hasson: Sunnyvale, coming off a trip to the playoffs a year ago, will not see a lot of major changes as it remains grouped with defending district champion Quinlan Ford, Caddo Mills and Wills Point.
That quartet is joined by a pair of Dallas ISD programs, as Lincoln and Roosevelt were added to the district.