By TONY EIERDAM
It is the time high school players, coaches and sports fans anxiously look forward to every other year – the University Interscholastic League redistricting.
In the past, the UIL would announce its redistricting and reclassification of Texas schools every other February, but this year the reclassification was done in December in part because of the new classifications which included adding a Class 6A and eliminating the term “six man” for those Class A schools that play six-man football, including Strawn and Gordon in Palo Pinto County.
The new classification cut off numbers divided the old “six man” and “Class A” into classifications 1A and 2A, with most of the larger schools currently in Class A “Division I” moving to 2A and the “Division II” schools and six man schools representing Class A.
The changes begin with the 2014-15 school year until the end of the 20-15-16 school year. In February of 2016 the UIL will go through the redistricting process again.
For the most part, coaches around the area are pleased with their new districts. In most cases, in Classes 1A-4A, basketball districts were different than the football districts, such as in the case of Mineral Wells High School, which will play football in District 4-4A and basketball in District 6-4A.
Graford, which does not play football, will stay in Class A and compete in District 17-A beginning next year. Perrin is also in this basketball district but the Pirates will play football in District 8-2A Division II along with Santo, which also will play in a different basketball District, 10-2A.
Graford head boys basketball coach Ty Tabor said moving into a new region may be challenging, but he feels travel will be lighter in the Jackrabbits and lady Rabbits new district.
“We are okay with our new district,” Tabor said. “At least we know what to expect. We just traded Paint Creek for Perrin and are happy about that from a travel standpoint.
“We also moved to a new region (Region 3) so we are not as familiar with a few of the teams as we are in Region 2.
Perrin head football coach Brad Hutton was pleased with the move. Oddly enough, the UIL has placed Perrin is in a Class 2A football district, but has put PHS in a Class A basketball district.
“Great move,” he said. “More travel, but welcomed. Albany is real good, Santo is real good. Everybody else is pretty equal I think. We are excited.”
It appears Millsap once again will be placed in a stout district. Bulldogs head football coach Kyle Coker said each game in District 2-3A Division II. The good news for Millsap is its travel distance has shortened.
“This district is one of the toughest in the state in 3A Division II,” Coker said. “There are six playoff teams in it from a year ago including a state champion and a team that missed the state championship by one game.
“It will be a battle each week. Travel is not bad for us as it is for others in our district.”
Santo head football coach Randy Thornton feels the new district “makes geographical sense.”
“It’s always exciting in February during a UIL realignment year,” Thornton said. “The UIL took some of the edge off this year by releasing the divisional cutoff numbers back in December.
“Regardless, we are excited in Santo to find out our new district and who we will be paired up with come the next couple of years.
“I stand by the statement that you don’t win or lose football games in February. Teams prove themselves in the fall on the field.
“That is our focus right now. With that being said we are excited about the opportunity to play in Division 2. The last four years we have been the school with the smallest enrollment in our district. It will be nice to be on the other side for a change.
“Of course, if enrollment were the tell-tale sign the UIL would just hand out the trophy to the biggest school each year and the games wouldn’t matter. It doesn’t work that way though.
“I feel the district we were aligned with – Albany, Baird, Cross Plains, Gorman, Ranger and Perrin is a solid district. There are some good coaches and some good programs in that group and that will make for some entertaining Friday nights.
“Most of these schools are familiar to us. Prior to the UIL dividing our class into divisions we had several of these schools in our district. Geographically, it makes sense for us to align with this group and was what I was expecting for the most part.
“Hopefully, having played in a couple of pretty tough districts the last four years has prepared us to play at a high level as we move into our new district.
Gordon head football coach Joe Kostiha is excited to be paired in a district with Strawn once again, just like when he played for the Longhorns.
“We are incredibly excited to be in the district with such prestigious programs,” Kostiha said. “We realize with four out of five schools being playoff teams we have a challenge in front of us. And that is a challenge we are welcoming.”