Cover Photo via Pat Doney (@PatDoneyNBC5) on Twitter
There are still a few months left in the 2021-2022 season with state championships in basketball, baseball and softball, among others, still to be decided. Last Thursday, the UIL gave us a glimpse into the future by releasing UIL Realignment for sports such as football and basketball for the 2022-2024 seasons. Here are some of the top storylines heading into next season.
6A Looks the Same
There weren’t many changes to 6A districts across the metroplex last week. The UIL kept these districts as close to the same as possible. There are some new introductions to 6A in the DFW metroplex. Highland Park gets a relatively soft re-introduction to 6A and will compete in District 7-6A with Dallas Jesuit, the Richardson schools and the Irving schools. The Scots are in a nine-team district so they will only play two non-district games, but Highland Park isn’t taking the non-district schedule lightly with games against Flower Mound Marcus and Lewisville scheduled. Highland Park should be prepared for 6A competition after playing four non-district games against 6A teams last season, including games against Southlake Carroll and Rockwall.
Crowley moved up to 6A in a move that didn’t raise as many eyebrows as Highland Park’s step up might have, but it did have some ramifications. Crowley will compete in the same district North Crowley has played in for the last few years. That makes sense, but it also made sense to move one team out of District 3-6A to District 4-6A, which only has seven teams as currently constructed. This way both District 3-6A and District 4-6A each have eight teams. The UIL could have moved Euless Trinity into the same district as Southlake Carroll. Instead, it chose to put Haltom in with the Dragons, the Keller schools, Byron Nelson and Eaton. Both districts have plenty of talented teams, but none of those teams come close to being in the same tier as Southlake Carroll and Euless Trinity. Those two teams will cruise to district titles in football for two more years.
Prosper Rock Hill joins District 5-6A as the only change in that district and Dallas Skyline replaces Waco Midway in District 11-6A, making that district even more competitive in football. There were a handful of changes in metroplex area 6A districts, but not many. For the most part, competition will look the same throughout the regular season and the playoffs. The main change is that Highland Park now factors into the 6A DII playoff picture.
District 3-5A DI
We have known since snapshot last fall that Aledo would be moving up a level, ending a run of dominance for the Bearcats in 5A DII. What we didn’t know was the wild district Aledo would be put in. The Bearcats will compete with teams they are familiar with like Burleson Centennial, Azle, Brewer, Saginaw, Northwest and Fort Worth South Hills. Aledo will also have to face unfamiliar opponents in Denton Ryan and The Colony in district play. Denton Ryan’s current district alignment includes several Frisco schools, including Frisco Lone Star. The Raiders and Rangers have played a pair of exciting district football games over the last two years. Frisco Lone Star moves away from Denton Ryan and into a district with all Frisco schools and Sherman while Denton Ryan still has to face a powerhouse in district play for the next two years.
UIL Realignment isn’t all about the new districts. It also means teams can start solidifying non-district schedules for the next two years. There are still plenty of teams that need non-district games at this point in time, but some of the best teams in the metroplex have already announced some non-district games. Allen will continue its streak of playing a team out of the Houston area. The Eagles hosted Dickinson in 2019 and hosted Humble Atascocita in 2020 and 2021. Atascocita handed Allen its first loss at Eagle Stadium last fall. Now Allen will take on a C.E. King team that finished 10-3 last season and won three playoff games before falling to Katy 41-24. Despite winning 10 games, C.E. King finished third in its district behind Galena Park North Shore and Atascocita. In other words, the Panthers are used to playing tough opponents in tough environments. The tough non-district schedule doesn’t end there for Allen though. The Eagles will also take on St. John Bosco from California and an Arlington Martin team that finished 9-3 last season. St. John Bosco finished ranked No. 6 in the nation last season by MaxPreps.
Denton Guyer will face a new look Rockwall-Heath team that went 11-2 last season but will have to replace most of its playmakers on the offensive side of the football. We’ll find out early in the season if Rockwall-Heath is going to reload or rebuild. Denton Guyer will also dip into 5A and take on Aledo and Lancaster in non-district play before a date with Allen in district play later in the season.
South Oak Cliff will play in a 10-team district but will play a zoned district schedule to allow for more non-district games. The defending 5A DII State Champions won’t ease into district play and will face the best teams from the toughest district in the metroplex in District 11-6A bunkmates Duncanville and DeSoto. The Golden Bears will also play Lancaster and Parish Episcopal. There might not be a more challenging non-district schedule in the state. South Oak Cliff is prepared for it and has the talent to compete with those teams.
Cedar Hill is another championship caliber program that plays in District 11-6A and the Longhorns won’t an SEC style non-district schedule either. Cedar Hill has games lined up with a new look Rockwall squad, Southlake Carroll and Arlington Martin. All three of those teams had playoff success last season, though all three will have playmakers to replace and will need fresh faces to step up and contribute.
Games to Watch
Obviously, all the non-district games outlined above will be games to watch when football season rolls around, but we’re still in the midst of basketball season and a playoff race across the metroplex. There are a few games to keep an eye on this Friday night as de-facto district championship games. Richardson beat Lake Highlands on the road a few weeks ago and will host the Wildcats on Friday night. A win will secure a district championship for Richardson. Denton Guyer put five players in double figures in an 83-81 win at home over McKinney a couple weeks back and will now face the Lions on the road. McKinney needs a win to stay in the hunt for the district championship and Denton Guyer needs a win to secure the top playoff seed. Lancaster downed Kimball at home in January behind 20 points from Micah Clark. Now the Tigers will take on Kimball on the road in a matchup of the second and third ranked teams in 5A. Lancaster can secure a district championship with a win while Kimball needs to protect home-court to stay in the hunt for the district championship.
Player of the Week
My Player of the Week is Allen’s Alexis Cortez! Allen took down McKinney 43-31 last Tuesday behind a game-high 19 points from Cortez! The Eagles outlasted Prosper 50-47 on Saturday and Cortez led Allen in scoring with 13 points in the win! Cortez scored 32 points on the week to lead Allen to an undefeated week.