The Marble Falls and Burnet football teams could face each other in district once again if Marble Falls High School drops to Class 4A, a real possibility, according to Marble Falls Independent School District officials. Photo by Mark Stracke
Marble Falls High School could move into a smaller athletic district after student population snapshot numbers fell from last year’s count. The three local public high schools – Marble Falls, Burnet, and Llano — submitted their snapshot enrollment numbers to the University Interscholastic League on Oct. 29. The UIL, the governing body for Texas public school extracurricular activities, uses those numbers to determine district realignment.
The UIL will announce updated athletic districts in February 2022. Those districts will continue through at least the 2023-24 academic years.
Class 5A Marble Falls submitted a snapshot enrollment number of 1,229 students, Burnet (Class 4A) turned in 949, and Llano (Class 3A) 505. The numbers represent how many students were in attendance on a certain day, a snapshot of the student body population.
“I think it’s more likely that we go Class 4A than not,” said Dr. Chris Allen, superintendent of the Marble Falls Independent School District, before the Mustangs football team took the field against Austin Northeast on Oct. 29.
If Marble Falls drops to 4A, it would put the Mustangs in the same district as rival Burnet.
The decrease in enrollment wasn’t unexpected. The Mustangs submitted a snapshot enrollment of 1,275 in 2019, said MFISD athletics director and head football coach Brian Herman, who is rooting for the change.
“A move to Class 4A would benefit the entire athletics program,” he said. “We’d play more teams and more programs like ours in terms of enrollment. We’ve been one of the smaller 5As in Texas.”
Two years ago, the UIL set the cutoff number for Class 4A at 1,230. The cutoff could change this year. That information is usually released in December so coaches can start scheduling scrimmages, afterschool practices, and spring ball. Then, the new districts are unveiled in February.
A move to Class 4A could benefit spring sports as well as volleyball and basketball more so than football, according to Herman and assistant athletics director John Berkman. Because of the split divisions in football in every classification except for 6A, teams play in districts that are close to their enrollment size. The Marble Falls football team competes in Class 5A Division II, smaller than 5A Division I. The two divisions even the playing field so squads aren’t facing opponents that outnumber them 2-to-1 in enrollment.
“It’s not to say (Class 4A is) easier,” Herman said. “There’s really, really good competition in Class 4A.”
The non-football district in which the other Marble Falls teams compete, District 25-5A, has high schools with hundreds more students.
“Football wasn’t in the same disparity situation in terms of the numbers,” Herman said.
Success doesn’t hinge on a school’s classification though, Berkman said.
“It doesn’t matter what our classification is,” he continued. “We all have to strive every day to do our jobs. Players have to show up and play our hardest.”
“We are excited about being in a new playing field in terms of resources and the number of kids,” he said. “We need to focus on preparing our kids. If our kids feel prepared — and confident in our preparation — our classification and our opponents shouldn’t matter.”