By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
The only 4A high school in the Killeen Independent School District, in fact the only 4A high school between Leander and Waco, Killeen High has been shuffled around the state and through the UIL deck of cards like a single wild card.
The Kangaroos have been put in northern and southern districts and have rolled through the state's four regions, but a series of rezoning ideas discussed at last week's Killeen ISD school board meeting could have the Roos moving back up to 5A, staying closer to home and re-playing their storied rivals in meaningful games.
Killeen High head football coach Sam Jones hopes it all doesn't happen too quickly.
"If they do it slowly, that's the best thing for Killeen High," said Jones, who also serves as the campus athletic coordinator. "I don't think they want to punish Killeen High by bringing in a bunch of people right now after the alignment. I don't think that'll happen. I think they're going to take care of all the schools in Killeen. That's why it's called Killeen ISD."
The school board is looking into ways to immediately reduce student enrollments at Ellison and Harker Heights schools by increasing the enrollment at Killeen High, the city's first high school.
The most talked about ideas involve moving Ellison and Harker Heights students living north of U.S. Highway 190 into the locker rooms and hallways of Killeen High.
When and, specifically, at what rate that would happen directly affects Killeen High's football team over the next two years.
If the move happens all at once and Killeen's enrollment number spikes, then UIL Athletic Director Cliff Odenwald said the UIL could "sanction" Killeen High by not allowing the Kangaroos football team to make the playoffs.
"The football might have to play for non-honors, but we could shift all other sports into another district," Odenwald said.
Because football alignments, like the one the UIL just handed out in February, are two-year alignments, Killeen High would have to play football in District 8-4A but its other sports, which are technically realigned every year, could play at a more-suitable 5A level; that is only if Killeen's numbers drastically rose over the 5A cutoff by the rezoning.
"(Natural growth) is something they can't really predict or protect, but when a school district rezones lines and creates (an) especially imbalanced enrollment figure, then there could be sanctions," Odenwald added. "Not until the 2012 alignment could (Killeen football) get realigned into another district."
Killeen High turned in a 'snapshot' enrollment of 1,829 students to the UIL in mid-October, which the UIL then used to place Killeen into District 8-4A in February's biennial realignment, moving Killeen out of its Austin-area district and into the Waco-based district.
Killeen is the second-largest school in that district (Waco Midway turned in 1,969) and 236 students shy of the 5A cutoff, which dropped to 2,065 this year from 2,085 in the 2008-10 realignment.
Harker Heights, the school district's largest school, turned in 2,605, and Ellison submitted 2,572. Shoemaker, which wouldn't be affected by the rezoning, turned in 2,230.
"We're hoping we can work something out where we can get Harker Heights and Ellison some relief as far as student population and put some more kids in Killeen, but whether that happens next year or the year after, that's going to be made at a higher level than me," said KISD Athletic Director Tom Rogers.
"There's so many people involved, so many different programs involved, let alone the numbers, that I would say where we're at is we're trying to make considerations for everybody."
If Killeen were to move up to Class 5A, the Roos would likely join District 12-5A with Belton, Copperas Cove, Ellison, Harker Heights, Temple and Shoemaker. In addition to making Killeen's games against the other Killeen ISD schools more intense, it would also ensure the rekindling of Killeen's pre-Ellison rivalries with Belton and Temple, whom the Roos haven't played since 1997 and 2001, respectively.
The move would also save the school district money on traveling expenses, Rogers added, especially if Bryan and College Station were moved out of the current 12-5A to make room for Killeen High.
"Our immediate district, you look at the numbers everyone turned in in this area, I think our four – Belton, Temple, (Copperas) Cove – they're all pretty close to the same size."
Jones hopes, for his football team's sake, Killeen High stays quite a bit smaller than the area 5A schools for at least a little while longer.
"If they zone it, I think it's OK and they do it slowly, like they said they're going to do it … and all the numbers don't change that drastically, you'll stay 4A and it just depends on how many kids live in that area," Jones said. "It's a lot of 'ifs,' I think. I think that's why they're still looking at it."
"If they want us to be 5A, that's how you do it. You zone."
Contact Kevin Posival at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7562. Follow him on Twitter at KDHsports.