The Cooldown: Week 21

The Cooldown: Week 21

Last week’s edition of the Cooldown featured an instant recap of UIL Realignment. I hit on three districts that I can’t wait to see play football in the fall, including a loaded District 4-5A-II featuring Todd Dodge’s return to coaching with the Lovejoy Leopards, District 4-6A with Trinity and Southlake Carroll back in the same district, and District 11-6A with the addition of Lancaster to an already loaded district. This week, the Cooldown takes a closer look at how UIL Realignment will shape the football landscape over the next two seasons. Here are five thoughts on what transpired last week.

Best Non-District Games in 2024

Before I get into the new district alignments, I thought I would highlight some of the best non-district games slated to be played this fall. If you follow your favorite teams or coaches on social media, you probably know or have an idea of what non-district looks like for your team. The Dallas Morning News also put together a nice list of the best metroplex area non-district games. Here are the games I am looking forward to the most.

I am convinced South Oak Cliff would schedule UNT or SMU if it were allowed. Instead, the Golden Bears take on Duncanville and Galena Park North Shore, the two teams that can’t stop making the 6A D-I title game, and Longview. South Oak Cliff once again takes the crown for toughest non-district schedule in the metroplex.

Melissa takes on Little Rock Parkview from Arkansas. When state pride is on the line, that always makes it a game to watch for me. Allen won’t host a Houston area school this year, but it will face a Midland Legacy squad that went on a nice playoff run last season. Speaking of Midland Legacy, it sounds like the Rebels will also face Euless Trinity in non-district play, a rematch of Legacy’s thrilling 57-55 overtime victory over the Trojans in the playoffs last year.

One of the best coaching matchups of the non-district schedule next season will feature Todd Dodge and Lovejoy against Randy Allen and a Highland Park squad that dropped back down to 5A-I. North Crowley put together a tough non-district schedule featuring Denton Guyer and DeSoto. Denton Guyer will face Aledo in its non-district schedule as well.

I could continue to go on about some of the great matchups we could get before district play even starts next season. I certainly appreciate the schools that schedule tough opponents out of district play. Duncanville, DeSoto, Cedar Hill and Lancaster all play in the toughest district in the state, yet all four schools scheduled tough non-district schedules. There will be plenty of other great matchups that I didn’t even mention, but these games in particular caught my eye.

District 3-6A

I touched on the new nine-team District 4-6A because of how competitive it might be at the top over the next two seasons, and for the interesting combination of schools that make up the district. The new District 3-6A is also made up of an interesting mix of schools. Mansfield ISD moves from District 11-6A to District 3-6A, making it arguably the biggest realignment winner in the state. Crowley ISD, Weatherford and Boswell make up the rest of this district.

North Crowley has developed into a seriously talented program under Ray Gates, and Carlos Lynn’s Crowley program turned in an impressive season last year. District 3-6A will match up with District 4-6A in the playoffs the next two years. With Southlake Carroll, Trinity and Byron Nelson figuring to make up the top three spots in District 4-6A, it will be hard for three teams to advance past the bi-district round of the playoffs. That makes winning the district that much more important, and North Crowley appears poised to do so. The question is if another one of these schools will step up to challenge North Crowley in district play, or one of the talented 4-6A programs in the first round of the playoffs.

District 3-5A-I

The reason District 4-6A features a grouping of teams that usually aren’t all paired together at the same time is because Keller Fossil Ridge dropped to 5A-I. Specifically, the Panthers dropped to District 3, along with Aledo, Azle, Denton, Denton Ryan, Granbury, Birdville, Richland and Brewer. Aledo and Denton Ryan won’t be easy to compete with. Richland made an impressive playoff run last season and returns several playmakers. Birdville returns a talented quarterback.

Fortunately for these teams, playoff seeding won’t matter too much in the first round. This district matches up with District 4. Fort Worth ISD, Chisholm Trail and Saginaw haven’t had too much success in the playoffs as of late. Fort Worth Arlington Heights won a playoff game in 2022 and Fort Worth Paschal moves down from the 6A ranks where it could be more competitive. Chisholm Trail breaks in a new coach in Ricklan Holmes. Despite that, the talent, leadership and tradition at programs such as Aledo, Denton Ryan, Richland, Birdville and Keller Fossil Ridge would likely be far too much for any of the District 4 schools to overcome in the next two years.

District 3-5A-II

The playoff matchups between District 3 and District 4 in 5A-II will be much different than the playoff matchups between those districts in 5A-I. I wrote about District 4-5A-II being one of the toughest in the state in last week’s Cooldown, but don’t sleep on District 3 either. Argyle, Arlington Seguin, Burleson, Colleyville Heritage, Everman, Grapevine, The Colony, Mansfield Summit and Mansfield Timberview make up District 3. Argyle, Colleyville Heritage and Mansfield Timberview are perennially good, while just about every other team in this district has been a playoff quality team in recent memory. That will make for some titanic playoff matchups in the bi-district round. The teams that emerge from those bi-district matchups will be state title contenders.

Another note from 5A-II, South Oak Cliff is back in a district with all DISD schools- no surprise. The surprise our Professor Diggs has mentioned a few times on social media and on TV, Port-Neches Groves is in Region II with the Golden Bears. A potential rematch between those two schools won’t be happening in Arlington. Instead, the winner will have a shot to get to Arlington while the loser goes home earlier than expected. Regardless, I would love to see these two play one another in the playoffs again.

District 6-6A

We’ll go back to 6A to recap another nine-team district. Allen, McKinney, McKinney Boyd, Plano, Plano East, Plano West, Princeton, Prosper and Prosper Rock Hill make up District 6-6A. Fortunately for Professor Diggs’ beloved Plano East Panthers, a playoff spot should be in reach. Allen, McKinney and Prosper are the headliners here, though McKinney will be breaking in a new coach. The thing that jumps out here is pairing Allen with Plano ISD, resulting in three of the largest schools in the entire state facing one another in district play.

The bi-district round playoff matchups have serious potential between District 6-6A and District 5-6A. The latter district is made up of Coppell, Denton Braswell, Denton Guyer, Lewisville, Flower Mound, Flower Mound Marcus, Hebron and Little Elm. Not only are there plenty of talented programs, but a lot of these schools play in a district now that it will face in the bi-district round of the playoffs going forward.