Weatherford Democrat

February 2, 2014

Guessing games end on Monday - Column

Webb of Thought

Weatherford Democrat

— By Greg Webb

The biennial exercise of trying to read the minds of the powers-that-be in Austin, i.e., the University Interscholastic League (UIL) decision makers, is about to end — tomorrow morning, in fact. 

The UIL purports a logical approach  toward establishment of the district groupings, and while few would envy the task, there are invariably a good number of detractors every couple of years who firmly believe the UIL crystal ball is on the fritz. 

But that is usually the exception rather than the rule. More often than not, the basic clustering of teams to establish a district makes sense, with the UIL’s intention of making districts geographically friendly being accomplished in varying degrees. Though sometimes there are the “sore-thumb” stick-outs who may be left wondering what just what the heck the UIL was thinking.

The UIL provided a “teaser” back in December when its released the classification enrollment boundaries, further enhanced by the new class monikers (1A to 2A, 2A to 3A, etc.), which was really little enhancement at all, other than the normal high-low enrollment adjustments to provide equality to the school count in each class.

Still, yet another classification (4A) was “divisioned” up front (bearing in mind this is mostly for football district purposes, though basketball is also effected) and districts will be established within each division. That also provides another geographical challenge to the district pickers, potentially providing fewer candidates in remote areas.

Redistricting for sports other than football and basketball will be subsequently released in the order of the season’s start.

Local curiosities abound for local schools. 

Aledo, thirsting for district competition last year so its starters could play more than a half season’s worth of football, would love to see a more competitive 5A district without having to front-load competition through its non-district schedule.

Although Aledo has requested a deeper look by the UIL to put the reining state champs in a saltier group, the UIL maintains that it is for geographical, rather than competitive motives that drives realignment. So, there could be no change at all.

By the way, Classes 5A and 6A will remain the same as before — the classifications will remain intact for redistricting purposes, with football playoff teams being split into big-school, small-school divisions. It will be interesting to see in the next few years if the UIL will pursue “permanent” division splits for the larger classifications or if the geographical barriers will be too formidable.  

Springtown, grouped in Division I of Class 4A, will likely join Mineral Wells again, but all bets will be off past that, I think.

Most of Brock’s anticipation comes from the first-time districting as it finally joins UIL-sanctioned football. The Eagles will be part of Class 3A, DI, while across I-20, Millsap will encounter at least some new faces in D-II.

Applying an intensity measuring stick, Weatherford and its fans may be the most anticipatory of the impending realignment announcement.

The Roos have languished in the Arlington-laden alignment for the past four years and, perhaps for no other reason than not having to negotiate I-30 and I-20 Friday afternoon traffic a handful of times per season (especially on Ranger game nights), the Blue faithful might enjoy a change in game night scenery.

The most likely alternative for Weatherford’s district, should the UIL decide not to hit the replay button for two more years of the static grouping of the past four years, would be to pack up with Paschal and North Crowley and head back north, to reacquaint with Haltom, Richland and some others in that area. But “likely” is a very relative term, so there’s really no telling if a dramatic change is in store.

Realignment has become a popular and much-anticipated side show for high school athletics and all of the other UIL-sanctioned competitions. Though it is football-centric at first blush, all other UIL activities are touched by it as well.

There are no office pools of which I am aware (yet), but the anticipation still accounts for a growing speculative audience every other year. There are always surprises, and one wonders, amidst the logistics of trying to provide fairness for each school’s travel budget, if there is not also just a touch of surprise factor built in. We’ll see on Monday.