NORTH RICHLAND HILLS - Some North Texas high school football teams are getting ready for long road trips.
The University Interscholastic League, the organization that regulates high school sports, announced its reclassification and realignment changes Monday morning. The most talked about change involves the new configuration of District 7-5A (Div. I).
The reconfigured set of teams includes Highland Park, Mckinney North, West Mesquite, Wylie East and then stretches up to Sherman and out to Tyler and Longview.
Teams will travel as far as almost 150 miles, spending nearly three hours on the road, to compete.
“UIL has got a tough job,” said Shawn Pratt, McKinney ISD Athletic Director. “You know, they took 5A and football and said we'll do big 5A and small 5A. Well, that means you may have to travel more and unfortunately we're on that east side of that Metroplex that pulls us out east sometimes.”
Highland Park Football Coach Randy Allen said the inclusion of Longview in the district was the biggest surprise.
“We knew they were going to drop down from 6A, but we didn't know we were going to be in their district, so that's a big surprise. Then Tyler is a little bit of a surprise this year,” Allen said. “We'll do whatever it takes to make sure our kids are ready to play and our fans travel well.”
Pratt said he never dreamed one of his McKinney schools would be playing both Highland Park and East Texas teams, but he does believe basing it off enrollment is the best UIL can do to keep it fair.
“They're never going to make the whole state happy, but I do believe they are the best governing body in the United States. I totally believe that. We will accept our district and move on,” Pratt said.
That particular district is the alignment only for football. The basketball and volleyball teams have different district alignments and will not have to make such long road trips, although there is still some travel involved.
Hundreds of coaches from across North Texas gathered in the Fort Worth suburb of North Richland Hills to work out schedules.
One coach likened it to Wall Street with all the wheeling and dealing.
“That’s why we’re all here, you know, so that we can get the schedule set for district but then if you need a non-district game you can run around and look for one,” said Arlington Lamar Coach Laban DeLay. “The parents have been beating on my door for the last couple of weeks. ‘What’s our schedule? What’s our schedule?’ It probably won’t be finalized today but we’ll have a really good feel of where we are gonna go after today.”
Some other notable districts involving North Texas football teams:
Flower Mound Marcus
Mansfield Lake Ridge
For more information: UIL 2020-2022 Reclassification and Realignment