As the Texas high school football season hurtles toward its climax, with a number of teams having already turned in their jerseys and pads, a side interest that dictates what the next two seasons will look like becomes the new focus.
A month ago, all of the state’s 2,800-plus public high schools turned in a snapshot of their respective enrollments to the UIL to determine the classification, football division and district all will compete in beginning in 2020.
In a region our size, there will be changes for some and static for others. It figures to be mostly static with a few significant exceptions if those who project how the biennial realignments will be formed are correct.
As for moving up or down among the six classifications, only one school is a sure thing. Jarrell will move from Class 3A to 4A in 2020 and remain there until perhaps reaching 5A in another decade or so. The community and school district are experiencing an expected growth on the heels of Austin’s suburban movement northward through Round Rock, Pflugerville, Cedar Park and Hutto.
Jarrell turned in a high school enrollment count of 519, which is 15 above the cutoff for 3A schools two years ago. That cutoff doesn’t figure to grow enough to keep Jarrell in 3A for two more years.
The cutoff numbers for classifications and divisional football alignments will be released by the UIL on Dec. 6, which will settle concerns of upward or downward movement for schools that tend to linger on the cutoff borderlines. District alignments will be released in February for all sports.
Two years ago, classifications were divvied up as follows: Class 6A: 2,190 and above; Class 5A: 1,150-2,189; Class 4A: 505-1,149; Class 3A: 225-504; Class 2A: 105-224; Class A: 104.9 and below. The football divisions were halved like this: Class 5A-I: 1,840-2,189; Class 5A-II: 1,150-1,839; Class 4A-I: 790-1,149; Class 4A-II: 505-789; Class 3A-I: 335-504; Class 3A-II: 225-334; Class 2A-I: 161.5-224; Class 2A-II: 105-161.4; Class A-I: 55.5-104.9; Class A-II: 55.5-104.9. Those cutoffs will be different this time, but probably not by much.
Temple jumped from 5A to 6A in 2018. Those who wish to see the Wildcats back in 5A will be disappointed. Temple turned in an enrollment of 2,333.5, an increase of more than 60 from 2017. Belton’s enrollment went down from 3,336 to 2,928 because of the addition of Lake Belton High, but will still easily be the largest school in the current District 12-6A. Lake Belton will open as a Class 4A school, though it will not play varsity football.
Carl Padilla, a San Antonio-based veteran Texas high school pollster, is the leading authority outside of the UIL of how districts will be aligned and several hundred subscribe to his service. He’s often right.
“There’s a conspiracy theory out there that the UIL will do something different just to prove me wrong on purpose,” joked Padilla.
One of his easiest district predictions locally is keeping the current nine-team 12-6A as it is with Temple, Belton, Copperas Cove, four Killeen schools, Waco and Hewitt Midway.
Padilla sees the heavily localized District 10-3A-I going from seven to eight teams. The staples of Troy (457), Academy (455), Cameron Yoe (482), Rockdale (443) along with Lago Vista would be joined by Florence, Lorena and stretching into the Hill Country for Llano to replace Jarrell and Manor New Tech.
Since the advent of the football divisional system in each classification except 6A, Rogers (282) has been on a varied geographical journey. Four years ago the Eagles, partnering with Lexington, were part of a Hill Country league with Comfort, Johnson City and Blanco while moving back to a more centralized district two years ago with Clifton, Florence and Hamilton. If Padilla’s projection is correct, it will be an entirely new excursion for Rogers and its fellow Eagles from Lexington, going southeast into a 13-3A-II with Anderson-Shiro, East Bernard, Rice Consolidated and Wallis Brazos.
Padilla hedged a bit saying he could have put Rogers in District 5 with Franklin and Dublin so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Eagles move in either direction.
Jarrell’s vault to 4A likely will reunite the Cougars with old rival Salado (644). Padilla has the pair in District 8-4A-II with Madisonville, Mexia, Robinson and Waco Connally. In other 4A districts with a local presence, Padilla keeps Gatesville (853) in Division I with Brownwood, China Spring, Stephenville and La Vega in 8-4-I while Lampasas (998) stays with Burnet, Canyon Lake, Fredericksburg and Taylor in 13-4A-I, losing only upwardly mobile Liberty Hill.
If Padilla is right, the current 13-2A-I will switch from seven to five teams with Holland (215) and Rosebud-Lott (227) remaining with Hearne, Thorndale and Thrall while shedding Marlin and Milano. Rosebud-Lott is teetering on the 2A-3A border. Padilla, however, believes the Cougars will remain in 2A at the very top of the cutoff.
The Battle of FM 107 between Moody (203) and Bruceville-Eddy (214) would remain a district rivalry under Padilla’s sketch in a six-team 6-2A-I with Bosqueville, Crawford, Marlin and Valley Mills.
Meanwhile, Bartlett (98) and Granger (129) would move into an expanded 10-2A-II with Burton, Iola, Milano, Snook and Somerville. Bartlett, which has won just five games in the last five seasons, qualifies for Class A six-man but has opted to remain an 11-man program.
The educated guesswork is in place. It’s just a matter of time before the truth is revealed.