Stephenville is headed back to 4A. But the only thing changing - at least for sports other than football - is the number.
The classification previously labeled 3A is now 4A thanks to the University Interscholastic League's new six-classification model for alignments. The governing body of Texas public school athletic, academic and band competitions released its new classification numbers Monday, including the cutoff numbers for football divisions within classes 1A-4A.
So Stephenville, with 996 students in grades 9-12, will be in 4A instead of 3A, but the only major difference will come in football as the Yellow Jackets will be in a predetermined Division I district. Currently, 3A is lumped together for re-districting purposes. Division I and II playoff brackets are then determined based on the enrollments of only the playoff qualifying schools within a given district.
Districts for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years will released in February.
The 4A (currently 3A) cutoff number is 1,059, with schools boasting between 1,060 and 2,099 students headed to the new 5A. The new 6A consists of school's with at least 2,100 students.
"The number went up, which we expected based on our knowledge of the UIL splitting 3A into divisions," said Stephenville athletic director and football head coach Joe Gillespie. "Obviously we already knew they were going to rename the classifications so that six-man could be called 1A."
Because the football programs within the class will no longer be lumped together, the days of Stephenville sharing a football district with Venus and Glen Rose will soon be over. Members of the new 4A with more than 686 students will be in Division I football districts, while those with between 465 and 685 students will compete in Division II districts.
"The biggest change is in football, and if you look at potential schools we could share a district with, there's Brownwood, (Abilene) Wylie, Graham, Liberty HIll…," Gillespie said. "Depending on the direction we go, I think we'll be in a very tough district."
Dublin athletic director and football head coach Bob Cervetto knew the Lions and Lady Lions would be in the new 3A, and was glad to see his football team headed to a Division II district within the classification. Dublin is currently in Division I (of the old 2A/new 3A).
"We're kind of sitting in a rocking chair the way it's set up," said Cervetto. "We rock back and forth along that (Division I and II cutoff line), so it's always up in the air how it's going to go."
Dublin turned in 287 students in grades 9-12, safely beneath the Division II ceiling of 314.
"It's going to be okay number-wise for us, which will really help out our sub-varsity kids each year to be able to match up," Cervetto said.
Cervetto was at Stephenville for three decades before heading to Dublin in 2011. He said the new reclassification system doesn't come as a surprise to him after all the changes he's seen through the years.
"To me it's no different than it was back in the day and they took Class B and made it Class A," Cervetto said. "It's just changing with the times."
He was glad to see the UIL release the classification numbers two months before making its biennial realignment official.
"It helps with scheduling and things because now we know which schools are going to be big school and small school (Division I and II)," Cervetto said. "Now we just have to plan for the possibility that other Division II teams we're talking about playing in non-district could end up in our district."
Like most coaches, Cervetto has already taken a long look at who potential new district-mates could be.
"We could be with Eastland and Cisco and go that way, which would probably take us clear out to San Angelo," Cervetto said. "Or you have Clifton, Rio Vista and that group if we go that way. Then you have Millsap right up the road, and talking to them, they think they may go north. You never know until you know."
Hico will be in the new 2A and compete in 2A Division I in football. Lingleville will still play six-man football in what will be known as 1A Division I.