Sports > Schools
Top 10 Plano Sports Stories of 2012: 7. UIL Realignment shakes up Class 5A
NORTH RICHLAND HILLS -- When the UIL released its biennial reclassification and realignment two years ago, the big news was the creation of a stout 8-5A consisting of Allen, Flower Mound, Flower Mound Marcus, Hebron, Lewisville, Plano East, Plano Senior and Plano West.
Those eight teams were again a major point of discussion Thursday morning when the UIL shuffled the deck for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons, but for different reasons.
"Anytime you get put in a six-team district it's unexpected," said Joe McBride, Coppell head coach. "It's hard to plan five non-district games, so we had to scramble for awhile."
He wasn't the only one as all the aforementioned schools went into six-team districts.
Denton Ryan, moving up to Class 5A (where the cutoff was 2,090 students) and Coppell join Lewisville, Flower Mound, Marcus and Hebron in District 5-5A. The other teams from 8-5A moved into District 10-5A with Allen, East, Plano and West joined by McKinney, moving up from 4A, and McKinney Boyd. Districts 5 and 10 are two of three in Class 5A (along with District 28) with just six teams.
"We were preparing for a possible seven-team district, so we had an agreement in place to pick up an additional game," said Don Drake, Boyd head coach. "But then when it came out as only six teams, we had to scramble a little."
Drake's plight was shared by many in the new District 5- and 10-5A with East head coach Johnny Ringo walking by and telling fellow coaches, "we need a Week 4 and 5 game if you come across anyone," and Marcus head coach Bryan Erwin telling someone on his cell phone, "we've got Week 5 filled, but we are open Week 4."
The Birdville ISD Fine Arts and Athletic Complex featured phone numbers and schedule holes quickly going up on white boards in an effort to fill the fall football slate.
"We got away from [District 8-5A]," said Brain Brazil, Hebron head coach, "but we've still go to play tough teams from there; we have Allen and Plano on the schedule."
Once the scheduling frenzy dissipated, coaches could reflect.
"I wouldn't say I'm happy with the new district because we've still got to play some tough teams," Brazil said.
One of those teams is Coppell.
"Now we are pretty much just going across the highway," McBride said. "So from a proximity point of view and for the sub-varsity teams, it's a good thing, but it's still going to be a battle every Friday night."
Battle is a good word for Carrollton R.L. Turner, which moved up a classification Thursday into District 6-5A with Colleyville Heritage, Euless Trinity, Grapevine, L.D. Bell, Irving, Irving MacArthur and Irving Nimitz.
The realignment fates were kinder to Garland ISD athletic director Homer B. Johnson, who regained his city-based district with 11-5A consisting of Garland, Garland Lakeview Centennial, Garland Naaman Forest, Rowlett, Sachse, North Garland and South Garland.
With the new districts set, coaches and administrators gathered to map out the district football schedule, with other sports to follow.
District 5 was headed up by Lewisville athletic director Randy Mayes, who had a sealed envelope with enclosed numbers for the schools to draw from for round-robin scheduling. District 10 used a dice shaker with Allen athletic director Steve Williams in charge.
With the departure of Lewisville ISD and inclusion of McKinney and Boyd, the Plano ISD schools and Allen seem to have been dealt an easier slate than two years ago.
"I would say it's easier," Williams said, "but just because there are two less opponents in the district and that means the odds of making the playoffs are better."
That line of thinking was shared by many in the new district.
"I think the season still looks very tough and this will be a challenging district," said Jaydon McCullough, Plano head coach.
The challenge appears more daunting for McKinney and Boyd, but they are prepared.
"We kind of anticipated coming back in with the Plano schools and Allen," Drake said. "It's logical from a travel perspective and we've been with them before. And now we've got McKinney in there too, which is nice because we've played them every year since we opened and it is a game both sides enjoy."
"It's going to be a great district," added Jeff Smith, McKinney head coach. "It's going to be the Battle of Highway 75."
The new 10-5A means less travel, not just in district, but for regional rounds as McKinney joins while Allen and the PISD schools return to Region II.
"If you look at demographics, the times are changing," said Gerald Brence, PISD athletic director. "That's why a lot of these changes make sense. We're excited for what will be a competitive district in all sports, but also excited to be back in Region II where it should be easier to get to some of these games."
While Region I tennis, golf and volleyball tournaments often take place in Lubbock or Abilene, the corresponding Region II tournaments frequently occur in Waco.
Travel was an aspect also mentioned by North Mesquite head coach Mike Robinson, who saw his team's district remain largely intact. The Stallions move from 11- to 12-5A and will again play against Longview, Mesquite, Mesquite Horn and Tyler Lee. DeSoto has been dropped with Rockwall and Rockwall-Heath, both new to 5A, taking its place.
"I think with the way the economy is, there is a lot of logic in keeping these schools close together," Robinson said. "A lot of the administration and academic staff are going to be happy with the distance from these schools, so it's a good situation for every one."
But District 12-5A won't be defined by proximity alone.
"I think baseball and all the girls sports will be stronger," Robinson said. "This looks like a very well-rounded district."
Similar sentiments were shared by Southlake Carroll head coach Hal Wasson.
"I think we are in a competitive district," he said, "just like we always are."
Having split from Coppell, Carroll will be in District 4-5A with Haltom City, Keller, Keller Central, Keller Fossil Ridge, Keller Timber Creek, Richland and Justin Northwest.
Only four of the Dragons' district mates carryover for the next two seasons, but that is par for the course during reclassification and realignment.
"I don't come into this with any pre-conceived notions anymore," Wasson said.
He isn't alone.
"You try not to worry about it because you don't have any control," said Mike Hughes, West head coach. "What I concern myself with is my team and I feel good about them."
Especially now that Hughes and the rest of the Metroplex coaches have a better idea of what to expect for the next two years.
"You just never know how it is going to play out beforehand," Brazil said. "But now we do know and can get prepared."
"Now you have purpose and direction," McCullough added.