The University Interscho-lastic League realignment finally arrived on Thursday and as usual, there were some surprises — both good and bad — for our county’s four high schools.
Given Sweetwater’s lack of athletic success recently, the general hope was that the UIL would put the Mustangs and Lady Mustangs in a more favor-able district than the current one (5-3A) with Wylie, Brownwood, Big Spring and Snyder, all with much higher enrollments and with the exception of Big Spring, a big winning tradition.
Instead, Thursday’s decision placed Sweetwater in District 4-3A with Wylie, Snyder and Big Spring still in the mix and 2011 state semifinalist Monahans rep-lacing Brownwood, which moved to Class 8-3A. The other change adds Midland Greenwood, which like Monahans made the football playoffs from the current District 4-3A in 2011.
The good news: Sweetwa-ter will now play five district games instead of four, and Monahans and Greenwood both have enrollments close to Sweetwater’s. And if Sweetwater makes the playoffs, it will start out by facing a team from District 3-3A, possibly the weakest 3A district in West Texas.
Greenwood and Mona-hans had smaller enrollments than Sweetwater after the 2010 realignment with 517 and 565 students, respectively, compared to Snyder (over 700 students) and Big Spring and Wylie (over 900 students). Also, Brownwood (877 students) is now out of the district.
“Losing Brownwood will really help,” said Sweetwa-ter athletic director Craig Slaughter on Thursday af-ter the UIL’s announcement. “They’re very solid in so many sports. I’m not taking anything away from Monahans and Greenwood. It’s just that most of their kids are playing more than one sport and they are sharing athletes like we do.”
Slaughter said he actually expected Brownwood to leave the current district, but didn’t expect to get Monahans in return.
“Brownwood and Mona-hans are very similar. They traded one great program for another, but Monahans is more our size.
“It’s (the new dis-trict) still going to be extra competitive. There is still going to be one a good team that doesn’t get in there (to the playoffs).”
Except for Sweetwater, which was 4-6, Big Spring is the only member of the new district with a losing record in 2011, going an uncharac-teristic 0-10.
Snyder was 11-2 and made it to the third round of the Division II playoffs last season. Wylie went two rounds in the D-I playoffs despite a 7-5 record, as did Greenwood in Division II. Monahans was a D-II semifinalist out of the current District 4-3A and had a 12-3 record, while beating Sweet-water 17-7 in a non-district game during the second week of the season.
Older fans will remember Monahans and Sweetwater at one time had a pretty good rivalry when they were in the same Class 4A district for much of the 1980’s and ‘90s. The same is true for Greenwood, which while never in the same district still had many great regul-ar season and playoff battles during the past decade.
Interestingly, Monahans also defeated Snyder and Big Spring during this past regular season and also beat Brownwood, 20-13, in a third-round playoff game in Sweetwater, but lost their semifinal played at Wylie.
Roscoe athletic director Chuck Cathey, meanwhile, is “pretty happy” the UIL put the Plowboys in a new eight-team 7-1A, Division II district that, with the exception of Albany and Hamlin, is made up of Class A 11-man schools that are on or below the low end of the enrollment cutoff like Roscoe.
The Plowboys lost district champion Crosbyton, plus Ralls and Rotan, but must deal with always tough Albany — which is dropping from Class A, Division I — for the next two years. Albany was a state finalist in Class 1A in 2009 and since that time is 23-2, including an 11-1 record this season. Albany and Hamlin, the district runnerup to Crosbyton this year, will go into the new district as the clear-cut favorites. But Roscoe, coming off an 0-10 campaign, should be able to compete much better in a district that also includes Gorman (4-6), Cross Plains (3-8), Roby (2-8), Baird (1-8) and Ranger (0-10). Gorman and Cross Plains both made the playoffs this past year out of District 9-A, Division II.
Rotan is dropping to Dis-trict 7-A, Six-Man to join Highland, Hermleigh and Ira starting next year.
The other big change announced Thursday puts Roscoe and Highland in the same basketball district (13-A, Division II) for the next two years, the first time they have played together since the 1980s. Roscoe fell from Division I after turning in an enrollment figure of under 100 students. Joining Roscoe and Highland in the new six-team district will be Hermleigh, Ira, Loraine and Westbrook. Blackwell’s new basketball district (14-A, Division II) is the same as its current 12-A, Division II, but Novice and Paint Rock have left the current foot-ball district to be replaced by Lohn and Robert Lee.