AUSTIN — Area football coaches resembled children waiting for good old St. Nicholas to drop down the chimney.
But instead of a bag of goodies and toys, the coaches gathered at the Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex early Monday to watch University Interscholastic League representatives open a box and hand out packets containing realigned district assignments for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years.
“Realignment is kind of like Christmas morning, you can’t wait to open that present,” Harker Heights head coach Jerry Edwards said. “Just to find out what district you’re going to be in the next two years.”
The UIL releases its new realigned districts biennially based on updated snapshot school enrollment numbers. For Ellison head football coach Trent Gregory, the anticipation of the event started the night before, and he was already thinking about Monday morning while watching the Seattle Seahawks blow out the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl.
“I did enjoy the game, but this is all about our kids and our school,” Gregory said. “It’s an exciting day for all of the schools in Texas.”
The big change for this round of realignment was the addition of Class 6A, but that change wasn’t what many high school fans anticipated.
The UIL put all six-man football into Class 1A, bumping the current 1A enrollment numbers up to Class 2A, and the current Class 2A classification numbers became Class 3A, etc.
Class 6A is for schools with
an enrollment of 2,100 and above, Class 5A has schools with enrollments between 1,060 and 2,099, Class 4A is for schools with 465 to 1,059 students, Class 3A has schools between 220 and 464, Class 2A contains schools between 105 and 219 and Class 1A has schools with 104.9 and below.
For this round of realignment, the UIL released its classification cutoff numbers in December, allowing coaches to develop an idea of whom was dropping in and coming out of their classification.
Temple will leave District 8-5A to join 17-5A and the remaining 8-5A teams, including all four Killeen Independent School District schools and Copperas Cove, will make up the new District 12-6A.
“It’s not a big change, it’s just a different way you divide it up,” Shoemaker head coach Channon Hall said. “You still have to play ball, it’s still going to be 11-on-11 offense and defense.”
But finding out about their district was only half of the work as head football coaches and representatives from Belton, Copperas Cove, Killeen, Ellison, Harker Heights, Shoemaker and Waco Midway soon got on their phones to find nondistrict games.
“The hardest thing for us right now is finding four nondistrict games,” Killeen head coach Sam Jones said. “We all know each other and we’ve been in the same district for two years. I think it’s another good district, we’re just excited to get out of Region I and go to Region II.”
Although contracts still have to make these matchups final, the 12-6A coaches held a meeting at the Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex visitor’s locker room to tentatively set up their district schedules and draw for byes.
“We pretty much thought it was going to be like it turned out to be,” Copperas Cove head coach Jack Welch said. “The only thing we were kind of surprised about is that we were put into Region II instead of Region I.”
During the last round of realignment, teams from 8-5A matched up with 7-5A powers like DeSoto and Class 5A, Division II state champion Cedar Hill in the bi-district playoffs. The 12-6A playoff qualifiers will meet teams in District 11-6A.
Garland, Garland Lakeview Centennial, Garland Naaman Forest, Rowlett, Sachse, North Garland, Rockwall and Tyler Lee make up 11-6A.
The other big change during this round of realignment involved Salado, as the Eagles jumped up from District 13-2A, Division I to District 11-4A, Division II.
Salado will be grouped with Caldwell, Giddings, La Grange and Smithville in the new district.
“We definitely have our work cut out for us, but we’re excited because we want to compete at a high level. So we’re excited about that,” Salado head coach Brent Graham said.
All of Salado’s new district opponents competed at the Class 3A level the last two seasons, with La Grange making it all the way to the 3A, Division I state semifinals.
In basketball, Salado will be in District 25-4A with Burnet, Lampasas, Liberty Hill, Llano and Taylor.
Gatesville and Lampasas’ football teams go from in District 8-3A to District 13-4A, Division I. Burnet also joins Gatesville and Lampasas in the new district along with China Spring, Robinson and Waco La Vega.
New Florence athletic director and head football coach Joey McQueen has a tough draw with the Buffaloes moving from District 13-2A, Division I to the new 10-3A, Division I but, in the smaller six-team district, they only have to finish ahead of two teams to make the playoffs.
The Buffaloes lose Marlin, McGregor and Salado, but have Rockdale joining the district.
“We’re in for a challenge, and we’re ready to step up to the challenge and go forward,” McQueen said.
The Buffalos will have to play Class 2A, Division II state champion Cameron Yoe, Central Texas power Lago Vista, Little River-Academy, Rockdale and Troy.
On the basketball side, Florence is grouped in District 25-3A with Blanco, Comfort, Georgetown Gateway College Prep, Ingram Moore, Jarrell and Lago Vista.
Lometa will be in District 11-1A, Division I with regular rivals Santa Anna and Zephyr. Evant will join the district to round out the four-team field.
Zephyr finished the season as the No. 31 team in the sixmanfootball.com rankings.
In basketball, Lometa will be grouped with Cherokee, Cranfills Gap, Evant, Jonesboro and Oglesby.
NEW CENTEX FOOTBALL DISTRICTS
District 13-4A, Div. I
Waco La Vega
District 11-4A, Div. II
District 10-3A, Div. I
District 11-1A, Div. I