Patriots to join Rattlers and Diamondbacks in Division II
The University Interscholastic League (UIL) has released its realignment cutoff numbers for the 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 school years and one way or another all seven high schools from the Mission, Sharyland and La Joya ISDs, the Big 7, will be affected. Not to be confused with the actual realignment of districts across the state of Texas, which the UIL does every two years in February, what the UIL released this week are simply the enrollment cutoff numbers which will determine what classification each school’s sports teams will belong to.
School classifications range from 1A for the schools with the smallest enrollment, to 6A for the schools with the largest enrollment, and for the last two years Mission High, La Joya High and Juarez-Lincoln have been 6A schools while La Joya Palmview, Mission Veterans, Sharyland Pioneer and Sharyland High have been 5A schools. As of the release of the most recent cutoff numbers this will not change. However, Mission Veterans, which was a 5A Division I school for the past two years, has been reclassified as a 5A Division II school. Division I schools are considered to be large schools while Division II are considered to be small schools. As a result of this change, the Patriots will no longer be in the same Division as the Palmview Lobos. Instead, they will be in the same Division as the Pioneer Diamondbacks and the Sharyland Rattlers.
Does this mean that the Patriots will once again be in the same district as the Diamondbacks and the Rattlers? As Mission Veterans head football coach David Gilpin explains, possibly but not necessarily.
“Based on the cutoff numbers that the UIL put out today, there are nine 5A Division II teams in the Rio Grande Valley. That’s not going to change. So we know that there’s a possibility that our district will be those nine teams. That would be the simple part of it. But there’s always uncertainty, and where the uncertainty comes into play here is that there are zero 5A Division II teams in Laredo and there are only three Division II teams in Corpus. So what is the UIL going to do with those three Corpus teams?”
“Is the UIL going to bring those three teams down here to make two six team districts or are they going to keep us with our nine-team district and move the Coastal Bend teams up the road towards San Antonio? There’s a lot of uncertainty right now as a result of this,” added Gilpin.
Besides the Patriots, the Diamondbacks and the Rattlers, the other six Valley 5A Division II schools are Edcouch Elsa, Mercedes, PSJA Memorial, PSJA Southwest, Roma and Valley View. The 5A Division I schools are Palmview, Brownsville Lopez, Porter, Pace and Veterans, Donna High, Rio Grande and Weslaco East.
As of right now, there are 20 6A Valley schools including Mission High, La Joya High, Juarez-Lincoln and the three McAllen schools. That however is subject to change because shortly after the UIL released its cutoff numbers, McAllen ISD notified the UIL that the enrollment numbers it used for its three high schools were inflated and that the actual enrollment numbers would place all three McAllen high schools under the 6A cutoff number of 2,200 and into the 5A Division I classification.
“That adds a little more confusion and a little more indecision into this whole situation.” Gilpin said. “So I don’t know if there’s going to be any movement in the cutoff numbers or how the UIL is going to handle it. But I wouldn’t expect them to move the three McAllen schools into 5A Division I.”
The three Coastal Bend area 5A Division II teams that could be added to the nine Valley 5A Division II teams are Flour Bluff, Gregory Portland and Alice. While not knowing if his team will be part of a single, nine-team all Valley district or one of two six team districts that include the Coastal Bend schools makes things difficult for Gilpin because he has no idea if his Patriots will be playing two or five non-district games.
When asked if he would prefer to be part of a nine team all Valley district or a six team Valley plus Corpus teams district, Gilpin said, “As I stand here right now, I don’t know if I have a preference. If they brought the three Coastal Bend area schools down, I don’t know who they would group with them. I would assume that it may be the schools from the other side of the Valley like Mercedes, Edcouch and possibly Valley View and keep us together with the two PSJA schools, the two Sharyland schools and Roma, I don’t know. It’s all a guessing game at this point.”
To add even more confusion into all of this is the fact that as part of its February 2018 realignments, the UIL put the Valley’s 5A football teams into 16-5A Division I and Division II while leaving the other sports as members of either 31-5A or 32-5A.
“We’ve got 31 and 32-5A for the other sports,” Gilpin said. “And while we’ve been part of 16-5A Division I, our other sports teams have continued to be grouped with schools like Pioneer, Sharyland and Roma in their district. So what is the UIL going to do there? McAllen says that they turned in a different set of numbers but the UIL classified them as 6A schools so if they put those three down, they’re looking at an 11 team 5A Division I district plus our nine team Division II district for a total of 20 5A schools in the Valley for the other sports. So will the UIL divide them into two 10 team districts or would they divide them into three districts? That is an entirely separate realignment issue that will be coming out in February.”
So while the UIL is expected to release a statement soon about what it will be doing in regards to the McAllen school’s enrollment numbers discrepancies, Gilpin and every other high school coach across the state of Texas will have to wait until February to find out who their district opponents will be for the next two school years.