That’s what came to mind after the University Interscholastic League (UIL) announced its biennial Reclassification and Realignment of member schools Thursday morning.
“All power is concentrated in District 16-3A,” said Matt Stepp of TheOldCoach.com, while analyzing what the UIL has wrought for the next two football seasons during an online broadcast of the proceedings hosted by the Texas high school football site.
District 16-3A in Region II will consist of seven schools (Bullard, Chapel Hill, Gilmer, Gladewater, Henderson, Kilgore and Spring Hill), up from six during 2010-2011. Carthage (moved south to District 20-3A and Region III) and Pittsburg (moved to District 13-3A north of here) are no longer in the district, but they have been more than replaced both in numbers and arguably also in talent by Chapel Hill, the Class 3A Division I defending state champion; Kilgore, coming down from Class 4A where it made it to the quarterfinals in 2011 in Division II; and Bullard, which went three rounds deep in the playoffs last season for its best showing ever.
“That’s why you never ever say ‘it can’t get worse’ because it always can,” said Gilmer Head Coach and Athletic Director Jeff Traylor Thursday of the perhaps even “doomier” alignment than what confronted the Buckeyes of 2010 and 2011.
However, Gilmer only lost one district game during those two seasons, made the playoffs as runner-up the first year, won district last year and played in seven playoff games, winning five. So don’t expect the Buckeyes to shed any tears about the new situation.
“I tell my kids all the time, people don’t like seeing us on the schedule either,” said the coach of the winningest football program of the 21st Century in Class 3A (134 wins with only 22 losses since 2000). “It works both ways.”
After all, since 2008, Gilmer has played all three of the incoming teams and been in the same district for two seasons with two of them (Bullard and Chapel Hill). Out of that total of six matchups, Gilmer has lost only once, 28-14, to Kilgore there in 2008. Gilmer more than repaid the Bulldogs with a 70-27 win at Buckeye Stadium during the run to its second state championship in 2009.
“It is what it is,” he continued. “You have a state champion in Chapel Hill. Henderson won it year before last. Kilgore: 4A quarterfinalist. Gilmer’s a pretty good little team. Gladewater’s gotten much better under Coach (Jerrod) Baugh. Bullard’s gotten a WHOLE lot better, going to Round Three. And Coach (Bill) Poe (of Spring Hill) with all the state championships at Southlake Carroll. You’ve got a really tough district. I’d rather play the Redskins and the Cowboys and the Eagles than those guys.
“We traded Pittsburg and Carthage for Kilgore, Chapel Hill and Bullard.”
He summed up, “For the fans it’ll be great,” but it also means at least one “great team” will not qualify for postseason play, whereas it would make the playoffs in practically any other district in the state.
And although he is not complaining about it, he was quick to add, “I think it’s not right that we only take three teams (to the playoffs). I mean, if 4A and 5A are taking four teams, why isn’t 3A taking four teams? They either need to do four teams or split it in half.”
The latter is a reference to the fact that Class 3A is the only UIL classification left that is not configured into two divisions BEFORE the season begins.
The Gilmer mentor then joked about petitioning to play in Class 4A next time, so as to have a better chance at making the playoffs.
This is the first time Gilmer has been in a 7-team district since Coach Traylor has been here.
“The negative is you can’t control your open date,” he said of the 7-team alignment. “You have to draw for your open date.”
So this also means there will only be four games before district play begins, but those opponents are already known.
Gilmer will play Atlanta in the Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic in Tyler in Week Zero, followed by Plano-based Prestonwood Christian Academy (location of the game not yet known) in Week One, Jacksonville in Week Two and Daingerfield in Week Three. The Jacksonville game will probably be here and the Daingerfield game there.
And if you are wondering why Gilmer had to book a game with faraway Prestonwood, see the quote earlier in this story from Coach Traylor about people not wanting to see the Buckeyes on their schedule.
The drawing for the open date was held Friday.
The District 16-3A 2012 schedule will not be official until Feb. 21, but Coach Traylor said after the drawing that it would likely be as follows:
Week Four: Gladewater, There
Week Five: Chapel Hill, Home
Week Six: Henderson, There
Week Seven: Open
Week Eight: Spring Hill, Home
Week Nine: Bullard, There
Week Ten: Kilgore, Home
The enrollment numbers for each school in District 16-3A are as follows: Bullard, 606; Chapel Hill, 961; Gilmer, 631; Gladewater, 586; Kilgore, 964.5; Henderson, 888; Spring Hill, 506.5.
The three teams fortunate enough to make the playoffs out of 16-3A will no longer play an opponent from the district north of here in bi-district. District 15-3A is now located to our west. It is made up of Athens, Brownsboro, Canton, Mabank, Mineola and Van.
And, once again proving that you cannot ever accurately predict what the UIL will do, Tatum remained in Class 2A. Its enrollment of 448 was just below the 450 cutoff number between 2A and 3A. The rumor that Argyle would move to Region I also proved untrue. It remains in Region II with Gilmer, setting up the possibility of another playoff matchup down the road. However, Carthage is now the largest school in its new district, so it is guaranteed to go into Division I in the playoffs. Thus, it is almost impossible that Gilmer and Carthage would meet in the playoffs during the next two years.
The other six Upshur County schools are distributed among five different districts.
Harmony is in District 9-2A, Division I with Sabine, Jefferson, Troup, White Oak and Tatum.
Ore City and New Diana are together in District 9-2A Division II, along with DeKalb, Elysian Fields, Hughes Springs, Linden-Kildare, Paul Pewitt and Waskom.
Union Grove is in District 10-2A, Division II with Arp, Frankston, Garrison, Hawkins, West Rusk and Winona.
Big Sandy is in District 9-1A, Division I with Beckville, Harleton, Joaquin, Price Carlisle and Timpson.
Union Hill is in District 10-1A, Division II with Cumby, Detroit, Maud and Overton.
Conference cutoff numbers were as follows:
5A 2090 & up
4A 1005 to 2089
3A 450 to 1004
2A 200 to 449
1A 199 & below
99.9 & below Enrollment cutoff for 6-man football and for basketball and spring meet for large and small schools
Division I and Division II Break Numbers for 2A, 1A 11-Man and 1A 6-Man Football:
1A 11-Man 150.5
1A 6-Man 53.5