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UIL realignments shake up Valley districts

If it seems to you like it was just yesterday that the University Interscholastic League (UIL) unveiled its reclassification and realignment for the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 school years, you are not alone. However, it was actually two years ago when this took place and that means that the time has come once again for the UIL to do what it does biennially; reclassify schools and realign districts across the state of Texas for the next two school years. In this case, it’s for the 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 school years.

With Texas’ high schools being classified by the UIL according to their enrollment numbers, and with classifications ranging from 1A for the schools with the smallest enrollment, to 6A for the schools with the largest enrollment, the seven high schools from the Mission, Sharyland and La Joya school districts, whose teams we have dubbed as the Big 7, are all classified as either 5A or 6A. These are the teams that we will focus on here.

20160818 Meet Eagles Night LG 22 showTwo years ago, the UIL threw the three Big 7 5A schools a curve ball when it included three Laredo teams in District 31-5A. This required the Mission Veterans, the Sharyland High and the Sharyland Pioneer sports teams to travel much further to some of their road games than they ever had to travel before. It took some adjusting, and some additional transportation funding, but the coaches and the players made the best of the situation.

In its most recent realignment of football districts, the UIL has once again shaken things up here in the Valley significantly more in 5A than it has in 6A. It has taken what was traditionally an upper Valley 5A district (31-5A) and a mid/lower Valley 5A district (32-5A) and morphed them into two Valley-wide districts named 16-5A Division I and 16-5A Division II.

Here are the 10 football teams that make up the new District 16-5A Division I: Brownsville Lopez, Brownsville Pace, Brownsville Porter, Brownsville Veterans Memorial, Donna, La Joya Palmview, Mission Veterans Memorial, PSJA Memorial, PSJA Southwest and Rio Grande City. And here are the seven football teams that make up the new District 16-5A Division II: Edcouch-Elsa, Laredo Cigarroa, Mercedes, Sharyland High, Pharr Valley View, Roma and Sharyland Pioneer.

Sharyland Rattlers’ head football coach Ron Adame, who has led his team to the playoffs in all six of his seasons as head coach, was not at all surprised by what the UIL did to the 5A districts.

“There was no surprise by how our 16-5A ended up,” Adame said. “It’s all the teams we anticipated. We’re in a smaller district now but it’s a tough district to be in and to be one of those top four teams that make it into the playoffs. What kind of surprised us was that in the other sports other than football, we lost the Laredo schools. Laredo Cigarroa is still in our football district, but the Laredo schools either moved up to 6A or were moved to the Corpus Christi district in all the other sports.”

Adame then offered some clarification on the naming of the newly aligned districts when he said, “In football, the two Valley 5A districts are now called 16-5A Division I and II. However, in the other sports they remain District 31-5A and 32-5A.”

What Adame is referring to is the fact that in the non-football sports, the UIL placed La Joya Palmview, Sharyland High, Mission Veterans, Sharyland Pioneer, PSJA Memorial, PSJA Southwest, Rio Grande City and Roma in District 31-5A and the four Brownsville schools as well as Donna, Edcouch-Elsa, Mercedes and Valley View in District 32-5A.

The fact that there are 10 teams in District 16-5A Division I means that the football teams that make up that district will only have one non-district game in each of the next two seasons. On the other hand, the football teams that make up Division II will have four non-district games per season.

That fact created quite a scramble by the coaches of the Division II football teams to line up their non-district opponents immediately after the UIL announced its new alignment. That included Coach Adame who was able to line up Brownsville Pace at home, McAllen Memorial on the road, La Joya High at home and Brownsville Hanna on the road as the Rattlers’ non-district games next school year.

While he is satisfied with his team’s non-district schedule, there is one team that Adame was planning on going up against but won’t be able to after all.

“We’re disappointed by the fact that we had to drop Mission Veterans as our non-district opponent in week three,” Adame said. “I know that game would’ve gotten us ready for our district play. It’s always a good battle when we play the Patriots and they bring out the best in our players. But we had to drop them in week three because they only have one non-district game and that will be the Battle of Conway against the Eagles.”

As for how the realignment has affected District 30-6A, other than Palmview being moved out as a result of their reclassification to a 5A school beginning in 2018/2019, the addition of Pharr-San Juan-Alamo and PSJA North is the only difference from the current make-up of this district which includes Mission High, La Joya High and Juarez-Lincoln.

Unlike Districts 16-5A Divisions I and II, the schools that make up the new District 30-6A are the same for non-football sports as they are for football. That is another way that the realignment is not as drastic for the Big 7 6A teams as it is for the 5A teams.

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