By David Kapitan
The University Interscholastic League made it official Dec. 2, issuing a press release regarding conference cutoff numbers for the 2014-2016 reclassification and realignment. Using enrollment figures provided by districts from Oct. 2013, the UIL divided schools throughout the state into six classifications.
According to the UIL, schools with enrollments of 2,100 students or more will now be designated into the newly formed 6A classification.
Other classifications will be broken down as follows:
-Enrollments between 1,060-2,099 will be in the 5A classification
-Enrollments between 465-1,059 students will be in the 4A classification
-Enrollments between 220-464 students will be in the 3A classification
-Enrollments between 105-219 students will be in the 2A classification
-Enrollments between 104.9 and below will be in the 1A classification
The 1A-4A classifications will also be broken down further, with “large school” and “small school” designations for each depending on enrollment. For the 4A classification, schools with enrollments between 686-1,059 will be slotted into Division I. Schools with enrollments between 465-685 will move into Division II, receiving the “small school” designation.
Wills Point, the school with the largest enrollment figure among all Van Zandt County schools with 736, will make the jump from 3A to the “large school” 4A classification.
Other schools in the county, notably Van and Canton, former 3A foes that played the past several years against one another in District 15-3A, will also move on to the 4A designation. Van, with an enrollment snapshot of 698, will move into Division I under the “large school” designation, and could possibly be bound for the same district as Wills Point going forward.
Canton, with an enrollment snapshot of 598 students, will play their 2014-2016 seasons in Class 4A Division II, under the “small school” designation.
Canton athletic director and head football coach Robert Ivey stated, “Our football program has been placed in 4A Division II. I do believe that this could be a very nice change for us but again we will have to see how we are district by the UIL. Looking at all the Division II schools that could be a possibility, I see us as a pivot point. I think we could go west with Godley, Venus, Ferris with possibly Rains in there too. I think we could go North, with some Dallas schools, Nevada Community, Bonham or even Anna or Melissa. I think we could go east too, with the likes of Gilmer, Gladewater, Spring Hill, Bullard etc., but who knows. Canton is just right there in the middle. I do believe the playing field across Texas is a little more fair now. We will not be playing schools twice our size in football anymore. I am still not certain how they see this to be fair with our other sports, but that to is going to change the next realignment or so they say.”
The UIL’s decision and enrollment figures will likely spell the end to one of the better football rivalries in Van Zandt County, Canton versus Van, for the next several years. The Eagles rivalry with Wills Point will remain intact, however. Ivey noted, “Not being in the same district with Wills Point or Van is just what it is, the numbers have to be divided somewhere. I guess it’s kind of like Texas and A&M not playing anymore; although we do currently have Wills Point on our 2014/2015 schedules. At the time of filling our schedule it’s a guess on who or who will not be in your district. As coaches we all planned on the number being around 700, with that number we assumed that us and Van would be in the same district as always.”
Van athletic director and head football coach Jared Moffatt echoed a similar sentiment, stating, “It will be very strange to see a Van or Canton football schedule without the other team on it though. I have been a part of four of those games and they usually make for exciting high school football with a great deal of community support on both sides.”
Even with the shuffling by the UIL, changes in scheduling will likely be similar to that of recent redistricting cycles. Wills Point athletic director and head football coach Kevin Garvin noted, “It is what it is. Most of the schools we will be in with I feel will be similar to what we have been competing against. It just lets you know how the playoff picture will look before hand.”
Moffatt added, “3A basically became 4A so a “move up” is really just a different number in front of the A. Very few schools in our region either moved from old 2A up or old 4A down. So there will be the same schools in 4A that we have been used to playing. Of course the big difference is the separation of the new 4A into big and small divisions for districting and playoffs that had been previously implemented in 1A and 2A.”
Other Van Zandt County schools will also make the leap to a higher classification. Grand Saline and Edgewood, both posting enrollment snapshots of 307 for Oct. 2013, will slide into Class 3A Division II for the 2014-2016 school years.
Fruitvale, which has been playing six-man football in recent years, will have the sharpest transition of any school in the county, making a return to traditional 11-man football in Class 2A Division II. Martins Mill, which doesn’t field teams in football or volleyball, will also be placed into Class 2A Division II.
District alignments for 2014-2016 will be released by the UIL on Feb. 3, 2014 for football and basketball, with subsequent announcements coming on other activities.