UIL announces big changes for Sweetwater
Talk about changes.Here's a summary of the many things that directly affect Sweetwater when the University Interscholastic League released its biennial realignment today:(1) Sweetwater will no longer be in the same district with longtime tormenter Wylie starting with the 2014-15 school year. Actually, make that districts. The same can be said in football for longtime rivals Snyder and Big Spring.(2) There will be more travel involved over the next two years than there is in the current District 4-3A, though not as much as Sweetwater might have feared when the UIL cutoff numbers were announced in early December, and head football coach/athletic director Shane Mobley began making out possible schedules for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.(3) Thanks to the creation of two divisions in football, Sweetwater won't have to worry about playoff matchups in that sport with Wylie, Big Spring or Snyder. All three will be playing in Class 4A, Division I, compared to Sweetwater's new Class 4A, Division II status. Yes, Sweetwater will be back in Class 4A. But you already knew that if you've been following closely.(4) Only Monahans and Midland Greenwood from the current football district will join Sweetwater in its new 4A district — District 2-4A, Division II. But that will be for football only, as Monahans and Greenwood were placed in a separate basketball district. (5) Big Spring and Snyder will still be in Sweetwater's new basketball district — and likely for other sports as well — and there will be no Division I or Division II, just Class 4A.The change in class is for renaming purposes only, since the six-man classification will now be known as 1A and a Class 6A (previously 5A) for the biggest schools has been added starting next year. Sweetwater, which seemingly has been on the short end of the UIL realignment numbers game forever, turned in a snapshot enrollment of 535 students. That still places it toward the lower end of Class 4A, Division II, which will have a range of 465 to 685 students. But that pales in comparison to the current cutoffs for Class 3A, which ranges from 450 to 1,004 students. Big Spring and Wylie's enrollment numbers when the last realignment was held two years ago were 982 and 927 students, respectively, compared to 548 for Sweetwater. Back to the changes.(6) The other three schools placed in the new six-team District 2-4A, Division II for football — Fort Stockton, Pecos and Lamesa — are rejoining Sweetwater for the first time since all four were Class 4A schools back in the 1980s and 1990s, before dropping in classification starting in the mid-to-late '90s. Sweetwater became a Class 3A school starting with the 2000-01 school year, and has been in Wylie's district for all but two years since then.(7) Sweetwater's bi-district rivals in football will come from 1-4A, Division II made up of Bushland, Dalhart, Iowa Park, Perryton and Vernon. All of those schools are 3-5 hours away, but at least Sweetwater won't have to travel to play them in a district game — which was a distinct possibility.(8) As stated earlier, Wylie, Big Spring and Snyder — the three biggest schools currently in 4-3A — are now in 4A, Division I (686 to 1,059 students) for football and have been placed in a powerhouse five-team District 3-4A that will also include Stephenville and Brownwood, two of the state's most storied programs.(9) Sweetwater's new basketball district, also made up of six teams, will be known just as 2-4A. In addition to Sweetwater, Snyder and Big Spring, it will also include Lamesa plus two other Lubbock-area schools, Estacado and Levelland. The bi-district competition in 1-4A will come from Borger, Bushland, Dalhart, Pampa and Perryton.(10) Wylie's new basketball district (6-4A) also includes Brownwood, Stephenville, Graham and Mineral Wells, while Monahans and Greenwood were placed in 4-4A along with Andrews, Fort Stockton, Pecos and Seminole.The other three Nolan County high schools will be dealing with changes as well for the next two years.Roscoe — a Class 1A school for years — will now play football in Class 2A, Division II and will face an entirely new set of foes from those in its current District 7-1A, Division II, with the exception of Roby. The Plowboys' new six-team football district will be 6-1A, Division II and will also include Bronte, Menard, Miles and Winters. Currently, Roscoe plays in an eight-team district with Albany, Baird, Cross Plains, Gorman, Hamlin, Ranger and Roby.Highland and Blackwell will now be classified as Class 1A schools, although they will still be the only Nolan County schools playing six-man football. And they will still be in separate classes, with Highland still in a four-team District 7, Division I.However, Westbrook will replace Rotan in the new district. Ira and Hermleigh, the other current members, will join Highland in the new District 7.Blackwell's football district, on the other hand, is in for a complete overhaul. The past two years, Blackwell was in District 8, Division II Six-Man with Robert Lee, Panther Creek and Lohn — though this past season, Robert Lee was the only school besides Blackwell to play a district game since the other two were forced to cancel due to a lack of healthy players. For the next two years, Blackwell will be in District 7-1A, Division II with Loraine, Trent and Moran.Also, Roscoe and Highland will no longer play in the same Class 1A basketball district as they have the past two years. And they also will be unable to meet in the playoffs because they will be in different classes, just as they are in football.Roscoe is moving up to Class 2A in basketball and has been placed in District 7-2A, along with Albany, Anson, Hamlin, Haskell, Hawley, Stamford and Winters. Highland will be in District 12-1A along with Borden County, Hermleigh, Ira, Loraine and Westbrook. Of those schools, all but Borden County are playing with Highland in the current 13-1A, Division II. Class 1A will no longer be broken up into two divisions starting next year.Blackwell's new basketball district will still be District 14-1A and, except for not being classified as Division II, is unchanged from its current setup. The district currently also consists of Bronte, Garden City, Paint Rock, Robert Lee, Sterling City, Veribest and Water Valley.