By Alex Byington and Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
When the UIL announced it was planning to alter the landscape of Class 2A, Salado athletic director Jeff Cheatham helped spearhead District 25-2A's protest of the move.
But with the UIL's new realignment slated to be announced Monday morning, Cheatham is no longer worried. Especially since he doesn't expect to have a dog in the fight anymore.
"We're sitting here probably going to be 3A, so it probably won't matter," Cheatham said Thursday.
With an enrollment of 467 students – 70 more than what the Eagles turned in before the last realignment in 2008 – Salado is straddling the border between 2A and 3A and is ready to make the jump up for the first time in school history.
In 2008, the cutoff between 2A and 3A was 430, an increase of 15 from the cutoff in the 2006 realignment.
"We've known all along that it was going to be inevitable and we're kind of excited about the opportunity to move up and get after it," Cheatham said.
While Salado is watching the 3A bottomline, Class 4A Lampasas will be eyeing the ceiling.
The Badgers, who advanced to the playoffs this season for just the fourth time in their 16-year stay in Class 4A, expect to drop down into 3A for the first time since 1993.
"We're all excited," said Lampasas athletic director Joey McQueen. "... That doesn't really mean you're going to win when you drop in classes, but what it means is that you compete with teams that have the same problems that you do, as in numbers ... that's the big thing about it. It allows all of your sports to compete instead of being outnumbered in basketball or baseball, or whatever it is."
The Badgers turned in an enrollment of 987 for this year's realignment – down from 1050 in 2008 when the 3A ceiling was 979 – and could end up in a district with Salado and Class 3A area powers Burnet and Liberty Hill, if the UIL opts to send the Badgers south instead of north to the Waco district, which includes Gatesville.
"Depending on what district we go in, logically you would think we'd go down south with Burnet and Liberty Hill and Wimberley and that bunch or they could send us northeast with Gatesville and Waco Connally, but there's a lot more schools up there with them," McQueen said. "... (But) if they put us in that (southern) district, I'd be as happy as a warthog."
Gatesville has been in 3A since 1982 and will likely stay that way.
For Salado, Cheatham wouldn't say either way where he thinks the school will match up.
"There's four directions on the map and we can go four directions," Cheatham said. "We could go north, east, south or west."
The last time Salado's numbers were taken, the enrollment stood pat at 397, just under the 2A-3A cutoff, making it one of the larger schools in 2A. If Salado does move up, it will become one of the smallest schools in 3A, with enrollment numbers nearly half those of other schools in the class, some potentially reaching more than 1,000 students.
That doesn't scare Cheatham though.
"We've been talking about this for two years and the bottom line is we're going to meet it head-on – we're excited," Cheatham said.
But whatever happens Monday morning, it will certainly mean drastic changes for several schools around Central Texas.
"It's kind of like Christmas," Cheatham said. "You get to open presents and some presents are better than others. Then we get to work.
"Bottom line is what everybody in the state of Texas is dealing with – the uncertainty and excitement," he added. "It's kind of a mixed bag of emotions because nobody knows and everybody will know at 9 o'clock on Monday."
Contact Alex Byington at email@example.com or at (254) 501-7566.