Every two years when the University Interscholastic League realigns classifications and districts among the state’s high schools, football coaches often are left sweating a bit during the lead-up to the big day.
That will once again be the case as throngs of Dallas-Fort Worth coaches and athletic directors head to the Birdville ISD Fine Arts and Athletics Complex on Monday morning to await the new alignment’s unveiling on overhead projectors.
Everyone in the room will have a sense of anticipation as the clock ticks toward 9 a.m. Then there’s Lake Dallas coach Michael Young.
“I’m nervous. I have no idea where we’ll be,” Young said. “It’s hard for someone like me. I don’t know of too many people in my situation where it’s hard for me to find a nondistrict game, because I could play a district game with anyone from The Colony to Wichita Falls to Justin Northwest to Azle and Fort Worth Brewer and all the Fort Worth schools. You take that giant circle, and I could be in with any of those.”
If history tells us anything, it’s that Young is 100 percent correct.
In the past 10 years, the Falcons have been aligned with the Denton and Wichita Falls schools, Little Elm, The Colony, McKinney and Frisco schools — and most recently in a district with several Fort Worth ISD schools, Grapevine and Birdville.
As for what happens Monday, anyone’s guess is as good as the next, Young said.
“I’m sure it’ll be fairly different because of all the new schools in the area,” Young said. “We’re looking forward to it. It’s an exciting day for us because some people know two or three schools they’ll be with, and we have no clue. There’s no lock. I know the Denton people think we’ll be back with them, but that’s not a guarantee. Little Elm and The Colony think the same thing, but that’s no guarantee either.”
The uncertainty has made it difficult for Young to schedule nondistrict games. He has no 2016-opening game but is hoping to play Grapevine or Denton, depending on his district. He has games set against Frisco Centennial and TAPPS power Plano Prestonwood, with a Week 4 game against Kennedale if the Falcons get placed in a seven-team district.
The Falcons won District 6-5A the last two seasons with only Grapevine giving them a test. Several of their games were blowouts by halftime, which hurt the competitive factor of preparing for a playoff run but helped Young get lots of players valuable varsity experience.
That experience helped the Falcons make a run to the Class 5A Division II state semifinals in December.
“They might not get you as prepared as you’d like to for the playoffs,” Young said of his district schedule the last two seasons, “but one thing it does do is get a lot of kids playing time that you wouldn’t play in other years. We’ve had a lot of young kids get some good varsity experience, so that helps. But it would be nice to have some more competitive games to get us ready for the playoffs.”
Argyle, which played in its third straight state championship game in December, has some of the same concerns with competitive balance, as well as travel. But unlike Lake Dallas, the Eagles just don’t have many options given the lack of schools Argyle’s size in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. With that said, football coach and athletic director Todd Rodgers, who is missing a Week 2 game, said there is no better way to divide schools up than the way the UIL does it.
“It’s a rat race, for sure,” Rodgers said. “It’s the right way to do it with population shifts and blossoming communities. In the name of fairness, it’s the right thing to do every two years so you’re playing against common opponents.”
Ryan’s Dave Henigan will be going through his first realignment as the Raiders’ head coach. He’ll be doing it on the heels of a 13-1 campaign in Class 6A with the knowledge he’s moving down to Class 5A while returning 15 starters — a sure recipe to be considered a favorite to win a state title when the 2016 season begins. He, at the very least, knows he’ll be in a district with Denton and the Denton district’s new school, Braswell.
“I don’t have any doubt that we’ll be one of the teams that’s ranked highly,” Henigan said. “I don’t have any doubt it’s going to put a big target on our back. Without question it will, there’s no doubt. Fact of the matter is, all the preseason stuff and all the starters coming back after  — all of that is irrelevant when we start all over next year.
“I wouldn’t have come back to Ryan if we were going to shy away from expectations. The expectations and the standards are high here, and that’s the way we want it.”
Guyer now is the largest school in the Denton school district and almost certainly will be paired with the four Lewisville ISD 6A schools.
District foes could be Trophy Club Nelson, which has been a Guyer district opponent since the Bobcats began playing varsity football, as well as traditional powers Southlake Carroll and Coppell.
That district would be the preferred route for Guyer coach John Walsh, but he knows nothing is certain until the UIL’s big unveiling.
“Just the whole LISD district, you can really develop some good playing relationships with them because they’re so close,” said Walsh, who has played Flower Mound Marcus and Hebron in the regular season and playoffs. “Everyone is within a 10- or 20-mile radius. We’d love to get back with Southlake Carroll and Coppell [after being aligned with them for the 2010 and 2011 seasons] too because they’re competitive. When you have a competitive district, you’re a little sharper when you hit that playoff run.
“But nothing I think matters. We’ll just have to wait until Monday.”
Then, the rat race is on.
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.
UIL realignment projection
Area high school programs will learn their district opponents for the next two seasons Monday when the UIL reveals its biennial realignment. Below is one projection of area schools from The Old Coach’s Matt Stepp.
Guyer, Coppell, Lewisville, Hebron, Flower Mound, Flower Mound Marcus, McKinney Boyd, McKinney
Lake Dallas, Birdville, Grapevine, Richland, Colleyville Heritage, Fort Worth Dunbar, Fort Worth Polytechnic, Fort Worth Eastern Hills
Denton, Ryan, Braswell, The Colony, Little Elm, Prosper, Carrollton Turner, Carrollton Creekview, Carrollton Smith
DISTRICT 4-4A (Division I)
Decatur, Sanger, Gainesville, Argyle, Burkburnett, Wichita Falls Hirschi
DISTRICT 3-4A (Division II)
Graham, Bridgeport, Krum, Vernon, Iowa Park
DISTRICT 4-4A (Division II)
Celina, Melissa, Dallas Roosevelt, Dallas Lincoln, Nevada Community, Aubrey
DISTRICT 4-3A (Division I)
Bowie, Ponder, Brock, Breckenridge, Boyd, Paradise
DISTRICT 5-3A (Division I)
Farmersville, Whitesboro, Van Alsytne, Pottsboro, Pilot Point, Callisburg, Howe