JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
MARBLE FALLS — When the University Interscholastic League unveiled realignment for public high schools across the state Feb. 3, there were very few surprises.
Marble Falls (1,125 enrollment) stayed in District 25, which is now in Class 5A. The Mustangs will continue to play Cedar Park (1,845), Dripping Springs (1,480), Leander (1,990), Cedar Park Vista Ridge (1,991) and Leander Vandegrift (1,875) but will welcome Georgetown High (1,797) and Georgetown East View (1,404).
Leander Rouse (2,138) is no longer part of the district because it submitted an enrollment figure that moved the Raiders up to Class 6A.
“That was one of the scenarios,” Marble Falls athletic director and head football coach Todd Dodge said about realignment. “We really didn’t have any choice in the matter.”
Class 5A districts will have four playoff spots.
The district had captured six consecutive state football titles until that streak ended last season. Dodge noted that Georgetown High beat Rouse in a 2012 state semifinal game and lost to Denton Guyer in the Division I championship.
Therefore, Dodge does not believe the new District 25-5A will be easier for the next two football seasons.
“It’s pretty much as competitive as it has been,” he said. “It remains one of the top two or three (districts) in the Class 5As in the state.”
Since the Mustangs now are in an eight-team district, they will play three non-district contests.
Dodge said those games will be against Burnet, San Antonio John Jay and Boerne High, with sites to be determined.
Burnet head coach Kurt Jones and Dodge wanted to continue the home-and-home series between the two programs.
The new district will be as competitive for the other sports, Dodge said, noting Georgetown girls basketball coach Rhonda Farney guided the Lady Eagles to the 2013 Class 4A state title and is closing in on 1,000 career victories, and the Eagles baseball team plays consistently well year in and year out.
“We all know how competitive the Leander schools are in the other sports across the board,” Dodge said.
Class 4A Burnet and Llano will continue to meet in district play for all sports but football. Conference superintendents voted to use enrollment numbers to determine the new football districts. In essence, Llano (497) will not have to face Burnet (924) in district play for that reason.
Burnet is in Division 1 District 13-4A with China Spring (718), Gatesville (788), Robinson (735), Waco La Vega (743) and Lampasas (1,017) in Region IV. Liberty Hill was moved to District 14-4A.
“That was surprising,” Jones said. “The district we ended up in wasn’t in our radar. To be moved with the Waco area schools is a little surprising. The odd thing about it is we’re playing teams located to the north but are in a region to the south.”
In addition to playing Marble Falls, Burnet will face Fredericksburg, Waco University and Taylor in the preseason. Jones said he is still hunting for one more non-district opponent.
Llano goes to Division 2 District 13-4A with Geronimo Navarro (513), Wimberley (672), Hondo (620) and Lytle (513), also in Region IV.
“There are definitely some teams you haven’t seen much of or know much about,” Yellow Jackets athletic director and head football coach Craig Slaughter said. “They’re teams at your level or in the same boat, more or less.”
Some teams use the same players as starters on both offense and defense. When the Yellow Jackets played opponents that outnumbered them in enrollment, those squads used 11 starters on offense who were different from the defensive starters.
“Depth is a big issue,” Slaughter said.
The Yellow Jackets will face Burnet in a scrimmage and will play Wall, Bangs, Brady, Fredericksburg, San Angelo Lakeview and Salado in non-district play. Slaughter is still looking for one more scrimmage.
Both Slaughter and Jones said they are still waiting to hear from the UIL to find out the number of playoff spots available. Each division has 16 districts, so there’s a good chance that four playoff berths will be up for grabs in each district, Jones said.
In all other sports, Llano and Burnet make up District 25-4A with Lampasas, Liberty Hill (950), Salado (478) and Taylor. The Yellow Jackets and Bulldogs were in this same district two years ago.
The UIL is calling the old Class 5A the new Class 6A because six-man football will now be referred to as Class 1A. The UIL didn’t create a new classification, but simply renamed the six-man classification and shifted all classes up one.
So the largest class remains 6A with 245 schools with enrollment figures of 2,100 and above.
Conference 5A has 253 schools, the largest class of the six, with figures of 1,060 to 2,099 students.
Conference 4A has 186 schools, the smallest class, with figures of 465 to 1,059 students.