There are still a few months until the 2018-2020 district realignment, but with schools’ snapshot enrollment numbers reported and the UIL’s decision to split Class 5A into two divisions, one thing is already sure — change is coming for local football teams.
For starters, Santa Fe will no longer share a district with Ball High and Texas City, despite the geographical convenience. That’s because of the UIL’s decision to split Class 5A districts into Division I and II, rather than waiting to split teams into separate divisions in the playoffs. The same system is in place for Class 4A and below, while Class 6A still follows the model of not splitting teams into Division I and II until the postseason.
With preliminary enrollment numbers at 2,074 and 1,904, respectively, Ball High and Texas City will be placed into a Class 5A-I district, while Santa Fe (1,444) will be 5A-II. Out of the current District 23-5A schools, Manvel (1,827) and Galena Park (1,823) will be 5A-I, and Fort Bend Marshall (1,245) and Fort Bend Willowridge (1,320) will be 5A-II. Fort Bend Elkins (2,340) and new program Alvin Shadow Creek (2,181) move up to Class 6A.
So, who will fill out the remainder of the new districts for Ball High, Texas City and Santa Fe?
For the 5A-I district, a recent projection had Friendswood, Angleton, Fort Bend Hightower, Richmond Foster and Rosenberg Terry joining Ball High, Texas City and Manvel (but not Galena Park).
While, geographically, this makes sense, it would be perhaps the most loaded football district in the state. All eight of these teams are likely heading to the playoffs this season. Manvel and Angleton are district champions, while Hightower still has a shot at a shared district title. Friendswood and Hightower drop down from Class 6A, as well.
Meanwhile, the projected makeup of Santa Fe’s new district is less clear. Lamar Consolidated and Port Lavaca Calhoun seem likely candidates to join Santa Fe, Marshall and Willowridge. To help fill out the district, other schools that may be tapped include Katy’s new school, Paetow, as well as a host of Houston ISD schools.
To put it mildly, this lineup would not be quite as daunting as its Division I counterpart.
While the reasoning behind the 5A split — to help even the field, competitively — is understandable, the soon-to-be extinct District 23-5A was actually a well-balanced group. The 5A split may fix some problems, but for Galveston County teams, it may create some new ones.
With Friendswood’s short stay in Class 6A ending, District 24-6A will get a minor tweak. Brazoswood probably rejoins the group after a two-year stint in 23-6A, with Shadow Creek taking Brazoswood’s place there.
La Marque’s snapshot jumped up to 667 after reporting 458 two years ago, which means a move back up to Class 4A-II. With schools spread out as far and wide as they are, it’s much more difficult to project the Coogs’ new district foes or what team will take their place in the 3A-I district (and what that means for Hitchcock’s chances to swing back to Region IV).
With an enrollment reported at 66, High Island has an outside shot at dropping from 1A-I to 1A-II.