WACO — Rifling through page after page of the University Interscholastic League’s 2012-13 and 2013-14 Realignment Packet, Glenn Talbott went straight to the 2A section.

Like a child shredding a heavily-wrapped present, the second-year Salado athletic director feverishly scanned the page for his school’s name.

As one of the state’s smallest 3A schools the last two years, following a leap from 2A during the previous realignment, Salado was in desperate need of a reversal of fortune.

With an enrollment figure of 444 during the UIL’s snapshot day back in October, Salado needed the 2A-3A ceiling to rise from the 430 mark it’s maintained the last two cycles.Earlier in the week, Talbott said the magic number was 15. He got 20.

Cracking a smile before scrambling to text his wife, Talbott was visibly both relieved and overjoyed when he saw his school listed in the new District 13-2A, Division I as the Eagles drop back down to Class 2A in the UIL’s biennial realignment released Thursday at the Region 12 Service Center.

“We’re excited about it, and we have big expectation obviously — the community’s going to have even higher expectations, but we’re excited about it,” Talbott said.

Winner of the prestigious Lone Star Cup in 2008 as the most successful program in 2A that year after the baseball team won the state championship, Salado returns to its big-fish-in-a-small-pond status, entering next year with the fifth highest enrollment in 2A.

“In two years, we might be back in the same (3A) boat, but right now we’re going to go for these two years ... and see what happens,” Talbott said.

Salado reunites with  familiar foes Florence, Lago Vista and Little River Academy who were apart of the former 25-2A along with Cameron Yoe, Marlin, McGregor and Troy — all teams the Eagles have played in the last two years (outside of Yoe).

“The program, numbers-wise, (is) better suited in 2A, obviously, because then everybody’s in the same situation — everybody has a lot more two-way players,” Talbott said Monday.

In basketball, the Eagles are being flipped to Region 3 joining the Yoemen, Rosebud-Lott and five teams that previously made up 25-2A: Academy, Florence, Jarrell, Lexington, and Rogers.

In two years in District 25-3A, Salado experienced gridiron growing pains with an enrollment sometimes half of its competition. The Eagles posting a 1-9 mark in 2009 before bouncing back with a 5-5 record last season. Despite the .500 record, Salado was competitive in nearly every loss, dropping four games by a combined 20 points — including twice in overtime to Gatesville and Liberty Hill.

The news comes as a respite from a month of turmoil for Talbott, after a contingent of 340 community members filed a “Petition for Positive Change” within the Salado athletic department at last month’s school board meeting.

The petition outlined several perceived failings by the Eagles athletic administration, many of which appeared to be direct criticisms of Talbott.

“It feels good, and there’s not any guarantees, but I think the kids will be more excited,” Talbott said. “We’re excited to be back down in 2A, just for sheer numbers, we’re going to be on the same page with all the other schools.

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