Will realignment mean big change?

Basketball season is nearing the end while baseball, golf, softball, tennis and track are about to start.But football will be fore-most on the minds of many people who follow Texas high school sports when the University Interscholastic League on Thursday an-nounces its realignment for the next two years. That’s because football begins and sets the tone for the new school year, and its players will be the first to compete in the new districts announced by the UIL.The decision will place Sweetwater in a district with the same schools in all sports (except possibly for volleyball). And given Sweetwater’s lack of success in recent years due in large part to its falling enrollment numbers — while having to compete with former Class 4A schools Big Spring and Brownwood plus perennial-ly strong programs at Wylie and Snyder — interest in this year’s realignment will be as intense as ever.Roscoe, Highland and Blackwell will also be affected by the UIL’s announce-ment. All three, like Sweetwa-ter, have tried to be competitive while having smaller enrollments than many of the schools who reside in their football and basketball districts. Unlike Sweetwater, those districts are not identical.Sweetwater had an en-rollment of 598 at the time the current realignment was announced in 2010, by far the smallest of the five schools in District 5-3A with more than 100 fewer than Snyder, the next smallest. It’s also nearly 400 fewer than Big Spring, the biggest at 974 students. Wylie had 940, Brownwood 877 and Snyder 714. Sweetwater reported 548 as its enroll-ment in October, so it could once again be one of the smallest, if not the smallest, schools in its new Class 3A district. But hopefully, it will get some help by being placed in a district that has a few schools on the low end of 3A, which currently is for schools with between 430 and 989 students.That scenario will become more likely if Stephenville drops down from Class 4A. If that happens, Wylie and Brownwood might move east and Wichita Falls-area schools like Graham south to create an eastern district while Sweetwater, Snyder and Big Spring go west for a district that also has a few Lubbock-area schools.In the six-man ranks, Blackwell will be affected by Novice’s recent decision to close its high school after competing with Blackwell in Division II the past two years. The same will be true for Roscoe in Class 1A, where longtime rival Rotan will apparently drop to six-man in football. Roscoe will stay in Class 1A despite hav-ing less than 100 students enrolled in school.