The University Interscholastic League released its biennial Texas high school district realignment for 2018-2020 Thursday morning, and no complaints from coaches were to be heard in the hallways at Stephenville High School afterward — except in regard to the tough task of finding suitable non-district opponents.
Stephenville is now going to be in a five-school Region 2 football district (5-4A, Division I) with longtime rival Brownwood along with China Spring, Gatesville and Waco La Vega. China Spring was a state semifinalist in 2016, and La Vega reached the semifinals in 2017, so with always-tough Brownwood — in the mix, the district will be a challenge even for Stephenville’s powerhouse program. Coach Greg Winder’s Yellow Jackets went 12-3 and reached the semifinals in December before being eliminated by Kennedale, which lost to Carthage in the state title game.
The current five-school football district had Stephenville in District 3-4, Div. I with Abilene Wylie, Big Spring, Brownwood and Snyder. Wylie moved up to Class 5A with the new alignment (District 3-5A), but the changes in classifications had been announced previously. Snyder dropped to 4A, Div. II. Big Spring remained in Div. II, but is now in District 2-4A.
“I thought it was a possibility that it would go that way,” Winder said. “I was thinking there would be more than five teams. You’re hoping for that. Now we’re scrambling to find some (non-district) teams.”
Stephenville’s new football alignment has Brownwood, Glen Rose, Godley and Mineral Wells.
Winder said he had no problems with the district alignment itself, although it will be stout.
“It’s probably one of the best districts in the state of Texas, bar none,” Winder said. “Everybody better be on their A game when they play in district, regardless who it is.”
Winder said he was not ready to announce the non-district games on Thursday, but they were expected to be announced soon.
For basketball, volleyball and most other sports, the Yellow Jackets and the Honeybees will be in a five-school Region I district (7-4A) that keeps the Yellow Jackets with Glen Rose and Godley. The District 7-4A, Division I schools for basketball starting in the fall are Brownwood, Glen Rose, Godley and Mineral Wells, along with SHS.
Winder indicated that having a district with larger numbers of schools makes non-district scheduling easier. He had a couple of plans in mind for some potential non-district matchups, but two of those schools ended up in bigger districts.
One of those was Class 6A Waco High, which ended up in an eight-team district and had no place on its schedule to put SHS.
Winder traveled Thursday morning to Birdville ISD in Haltom City, one of multiple meeting places across the state where coaches await the release of the district realignments on the UIL website every two years. He estimated there were about 2,000 coaches in the room at the facility where they met.
“It’s shoulder to shoulder,” Winder said. “Then you’re scrambling for games. If you get seven or eight teams in your district, you can get in your car and go home.”
Stephenville may save on some travel expenses, no longer having to journey to Big Spring (just over three hours) and Snyder (just under three hours) for football every other year.
Winder said that coaches can guess about realignment all they want, but nothing is ever certain until UIL releases the district alignment information.
“I’ve been through this many times,” Winder said. “There’s no reason to try to guess. You never know with the UIL”
Stephenville's current seven-school basketball district (District 8-4A) includes Alvarado, Glen Rose, Godley, Midlothian Heritage, Venus and Waxahachie Life School.
SHS boys basketball coach Bill Brooks said, “It’s always surprising, but you never know what they’re going to do. It always adds to the excitement of the day.”
Brooks said the basketball district should offer even competition, with no clearly dominant basketball teams.
“I’m pleased,” Brooks added. “It’s competitive, from top to bottom. It will be a dogfight every night. Proximity-wise, you couldn’t ask for a better setup.”
Stephenville will also be in a baseball district (7-4A) with Brownwood, Glen Rose, Godley and Mineral Wells.
“District looks good for us, but we’re in the same boat as football — the region is stacked,” SHS baseball coach Justin Swenson said, noting that the baseball region will now include perennial powerhouse Canyon, which dropped from Class 5A to 4A.
He said that filling the non-district baseball schedule, other than three tournaments, is also going to be difficult — having only eight district games on the schedule.