Splitsville: UIL considering radical change in football alignment

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

June 16, 2007 - The landscape of the UIL football world could change next year when the biennial alignments come out.

The UIL Legislative Council heard a proposal last week which could drastically alter many of the football districts in the state, though District 11-4A, which Sulphur Springs is a part of, might feel just a ripple.

The proposal is to split classifications in football by enrollment. For example, Class 4A, which has 229 schools in 32 districts, would take the biggest 114 schools and put them in 16 districts in Division I and then take the smallest 115 schools and put them in 16 districts in Division II.

Currently, the teams are divided by enrollment only when they get to the playoffs. Then, the biggest school to make the playoffs goes in the Division I bracket, with the smallest two schools in the Division II bracket.

The new proposal is designed to give more competitive balance to the smallest schools in each classification. Anticipated drawbacks would be increased travel and administrative responsibilities because football is the only sport in which the districts would be split.

In Class 4A, the cut-off for the split between Division I and II would be somewhere around 1,450. Of the six teams in District 11-4A, five are under that mark. Texas High, with 1,719 students, is the only school above 1,450, though Mount Pleasant is close with 1,405, according to the last realignment figures.

Sulphur Springs has about 1,200 students, while North Lamar, Paris and Lindale all have close to 1,000.

Greenville (1,427) would be close to the cut-off. So, Sulphur Springs could find itself in a five-team district or could pick up another team such as Terrell (1,164), Forney (1,262), Kilgore (1,108), Whitehouse (1,255), Henderson (1,008) or Pine Tree (1,394).

Of course, all of that is dependent on the Legislative Council approving the change. In the past, the council has on occasion opted to alter only Class 5A to change for the first two years.

The council will address the split-division proposal again in October and could vote to implement it for the 2008-09 realignment.

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