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Lubbock High, Monterey look at possibility of drop to 4A as UIL realignment approaches

Scheduling issues

Posted: January 31, 2012 - 3:37pm  |  Updated: February 1, 2012 - 3:25am
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Mark Ball has never been concerned with how many “A”s determined a school’s classification, whether it came when he was at Wylie or in his time as athletic director for the Lubbock Independent School District.

But there’s no questioning Thursday’s scheduled biennial University Interscholastic League realignment and redistricting announcement could be a historic one for LISD. That’s because Monterey, Lubbock High and Coronado could be split into separate classifications, and two of those schools would not compete at the state’s highest classification level for the first time — ever.

“I feel like it’s a possibility,” Ball said. “I’ve been doing this 33 years and my point is you never know what the UIL will do. I’ve been thrown plenty of curves and knuckleballs.”

When schools across the state in October turned in their “snapshot” enrollment figure, meant to represent the normal daily attendance for each school, speculation immediately began about Monterey and Lubbock High going from 5A to 4A. That’s because both schools turned in enrollment figures that would have been below the minimum 5A cutoff number of 2,065 set during the 2010-12 realignment.

Monterey submitted 2,057.5 and Lubbock High turned in 2,051. Even if the minimum cutoff number for 5A does not goes up — which it has done in almost every realignment since 1990 — both schools would still fall into the 4A ranks.

With Amarillo (2,062) also falling under the number, it would leave Tascosa (2,267) and Coronado (2,187) as the only Class 5A schools north of the Permian Basin and west of Abilene.

Projections by Carl Padilla have Tascosa and Coronado being placed into a district with Odessa, Permian, Midland, Midland Lee and San Angelo Central, and both of Abilene’s schools could join that district depending on whether the UIL sends them west as they did in 2010 or east into the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex as they did in 2008.

Amarillo’s expected drop could place the Sandies into a league with Palo Duro, Caprock, Canyon, Randall and Dumas. Monterey and Lubbock High could then fall into a district with Frenship, Plainview, Hereford and San Angelo Lake View.

“I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion because anytime you deal with the UIL, nothing is a foregone conclusion,” Frenship athletic director Brad Davis said.

“I think it’s more than likely just because, from my understanding from talking to people around the state, that bottom 5A number will probably go up a little bit. I think they’d have to make two 4A districts, and they like to keep them at six or eight teams. They like even numbers.”

Not only would Lubbock High and Monterey fall out of the state’s top classification for the first time, but Lubbock and Frenship high schools would also be in the same district for the first time as well. Both Ball and Davis see it as more of an opportunity than a concern.

“When I was at Wylie being in with the Richardson schools, when Pearce and Richardson High went from 5A to 4A they immediately became competitive in all sports,” Ball said. “It was a great idea for those two campuses. I really believe athletic success does help the school climate. If the school climate is good, then I think it helps the academic success on those campus.

Scheduling issues

One thing about the biennial announcement is, with all the head coaches in the area gathered in one room, it begins to resemble the floor of the New York Stock Exchange when those packets are handed out and scheduling can begin.

Bargaining, wheeling and dealing are the name of the game for about the next hour. That’s because coaches can only make contingency plans leading up to the announcement, with some having multiple schedules ready to go.

The UIL last fall announced it would release the snapshot numbers each school turned in to help with redistricting purposes, but then went back on that promise, choosing to keep the numbers secret.

Both Ball and Davis see financial positives from being in the same district as well as competitive advantages.

“Anytime you can keep games closer, especially district games, that helps,” Davis said. “It’s a big advantage as far as financial things go. Everyone knows (the state) is in a budget mess right now in funding for schools. It would be a big plus for us to be able to play some of our district games locally.”

Ball eyes a competitive improvement for both Monterey and Lubbock High. Of Lubbock’s three 5A schools, the Plainsmen are the only one to make the playoffs since 2007,

“Hopefully it will create some really neat possibilities,” Ball said. “It would be great to have those two schools in the same district with Frenship. I can see a lot of good draws and a lot of good gates. What I also look for is an opportunity to be successful. You can look at it in different ways, but to me I look at wins and losses.”

Rivalries, however, could suffer. If Coronado goes into a nine-team district, it would leave just two non-district dates, and those likely would be filled with Lubbock High and Monterey. That means the annual Frankford Avenue Battle between Coronado and Frenship might go by the wayside.

Only temporary?

Davis firmly believes this will be the last year Frenship competes at the 4A level, and he expects Monterey and Lubbock High to move back up as well.

But that doesn’t mean all three schools will be back in the state’s largest classification.

Davis said 6A in Texas is coming very soon, as soon as the 2014 realignment. The Tigers turned in 1,963 for its 2012 snapshot and Davis expects to be well over 2,000 by the time the 2014 realignment rolls around. He added he believes 6A will be adopted by the UIL by then, with 5A enrollments ranging from 1,800 to 2,800, which would bring all Amarillo and Lubbock schools into the same classification.

“I think it would be an easy transition for us,” Davis said. “You would see it show up if you were fortunate to get three or four rounds deep in the playoffs where you would normally be playing the Euless Trinity or Southlake Carroll. If they create a 6A that evens the playing field and you’re not having to play those mega schools with 3,000-plus students.”

Smaller classifications

In West Texas, realignment usually makes the biggest impact in the smaller classifications. While it won’t be as impactful as the past, there will still be some moving.

Nazareth appears to finally be giving in and will drop to six-man next season. But two schools could be on their way up.

Olton coach Joel Baker said it is a strong possibility the Mustangs will move to 2A. The school turned in an enrollment of 206, with last year’s cutoff number between 1A and 2A at 199. Though that number stayed the same between the 2008 and 2010 realignments, it has historically risen by 5-10 students, and Baker expects it to go up again.

How much will determine where the Mustangs fall. If it goes up five, Olton would be one of the biggest 1A schools in the state. If it goes up 10, the Mustangs would be one of the smallest in 2A.

“Wherever we fall in football, we’ll be competitive,” Baker said. “It really comes into play in the spring sports. The competition gets a lot stiffer at that level, but it would be nice for us to stay a big school in 1A and let the chips fall.”

Other schools that could be on the move down are Brownfield and Lamesa, though no snapshot figures for those schools have been available. Lamesa ISD athletic director and basketball coach Greg Moreland said with the school turning in a snapshot enrollment figure of 438 (the 3A/2A cutoff last time was 430), he’s unsure where the Golden Tornadoes will land.

“At this point it’s too close to call,” Moreland said. “We’re definitely somebody that’s on the bubble and it’s hard to make a call at this point.

“We’ll take whatever (the UIL) gives us. We’ll go where they tell us and we’ll go and get out there and compete. That’s our plan.”

To comment on this story:

george.watson@lubbockonline.com • 766-2166

terry.greenberg@lubbockonline.com • 766-8700

UIL Biennial Realignment

When: 9 a.m. Thursday

Where: Region 17 Education Service Center (coaches and administrators only)

What: The biennial realigning and reclassification of high schools in Texas for extra curricular purposes

Coverage: The A-J will have a live chat on site beginning at 8 a.m. with Sports Editor George Watson, who will reveal area districts as they become available beginning at 9 a.m. Also look for stories, photos and video at lubbockonline.com and lonestarvarsity.com

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