UIL rule forces Fort Worth school to play against larger teams

For the Young Men's Leadership Academy, every football game is like David vs Goliath because of an obscure UIL rule.

The Fort Worth magnet school’s football team lost their game against Chisolm Trail 46-0 two weeks ago. Their opponents had 55 players on the sideline while they only had 26 players.

The rest of the school's season is stacked with some of the biggest teams around because of a UIL rule that was supposed to make things fair.

The YMLA Wildcats know the deck is stacked against them. They're a fairly new program. The school's enrollment is only 120.

Despite the school’s small size that would put them playing against 3A teams, a UIL designed to level the playing field has them playing up against bigger, faster 5A teams.

The UIL rule was designed to prevent open enrollment charter or magnet schools from recruiting top-ranked players from other schools.

YMLA can accept students from anywhere in the district and therefore must adhere to the rule.

The school was originally put in 6A, but Fort Worth ISD appealed to the UIL to bump them down a few notches. They were eventually assigned 5A.

"We've got 11 on offense and 11 on defense,” said Head Coach Joseph Heath. “The problem comes when those guys get tired. But we've done a good job conditioning them all summer to be in good shape."

Heath chose a stronger schedule to build character instead of easy one to build confidence, and the players are confident.

"We're good, talent wise,” said player Jared Coulson. “We're up there with the best. We just don't have the bodies."

“It's more difficult. But life's not fair, and it doesn't have to be fair,” said Heath. “We're just grateful to get the chance to play somewhere."

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