New UIL Alignments Split East Texas’ Two 5A Districts Into Different Regions
The road toward a state championship for East Texas Class 5A schools the past two seasons simply ran through the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
There will be many more areas to keep an eye on during the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 academic years.
The University Interscholastic League unveiled its new districts in all classifications within the state Monday morning. Realignment shook up the Class 5A teams centered around Tyler and Nacogdoches' relationships with the schools farther north and east in local territory.
Jacksonville, Lindale, Nacogdoches and Whitehouse, alongside current district companions Corsicana and Ennis, are all moving to District 17-5A. The schools' new district through District 24-5A constitute Region III for playoff purposes.
Effective in August, Region III will incorporate a swath of East Texas plus schools as far west as Austin and as far east as Houston. Beaumont, College Station and Waco constitute other multi-school cities between the two anchor areas.
The whole body of District 15-5A -- with exception to new Class 6A school Longview -- was reincorporated as District 16-5A. The teams remain in Region II and will face no opponents farther than Arlington before reaching the state semifinals level of competition.
The new District 17-5A does offer several benefits for its teams to make up for long-term travel. It's a six-team district, and only two of its teams reached the football playoffs last year.
Four teams from each district will qualify for the playoffs in any given sport.
For the Jacksonville, Nacogdoches, Whitehouse and Corsicana football teams, District 17-5A provides some open space to start new postseason runs. The teams also will benefit from John Tyler and Lufkin's departures to Class 6A. Both of those programs qualified for the playoffs in each of the last two seasons.
District 17-5A will be a fairer fight for Lindale as well, which qualified for the football playoffs last year as one of the smallest Class 5A schools in the state.
But, most notably, the new district saved Nacogdoches from becoming virtually a non-participant within East Texas affairs. Most projections had the program moving south to a Houston area district while the remaining true East Texas teams consolidated into one district.
Corsicana and Ennis are the losers in terms of district travel, but they will play less games against East Texas teams than in the past two seasons and avoid another long trip by playing head-to-head. An Ennis to Nacogdoches bus trip is 150 miles. Corsicana to Nacogdoches is 131 miles.
Ennis appealed during the 2014 realignment period and was placed into another district for sports outside of football.
If a District 17-5A team won Region III, it would move on to play a Region IV team in the state semifinals. Region IV features schools from Austin, Brownsville, Laredo and San Antonio.
All-East Texas bi-district football games are a thing of the past, at least for the next two years.
A meaningful meeting between District 16-5A and District 17-5A would come in the form of a state championship game.
East Texas Football Districts
- Mount Pleasant
- Pine Tree
- Sulphur Springs
- Texas High