Welcome back to the big-time, Waco High.
Waco High will move back into the state’s largest classification — albeit as one of the smallest schools in that classification — after the UIL released its conference cutoff numbers on Wednesday. Class 6A will be made up of schools with enrollments of 2,190 and above, and Waco High submitted an average daily enrollment snapshot number of 2,195 to the UIL in October.
“You hear a lot of rumors on where the cutoff will be, but you never know,” Waco ISD athletic director Johnny Tusa said Wednesday. “Obviously we were hoping to be one of the larger schools in 5A rather than one of the smallest in 6A. If you had your pick, you’d rather be on the top of the pecking order.”
This will mark Waco High’s first return to the state’s largest classification since 2005.
The UIL will release its biennial realignment and reclassification on Feb. 1, 2018, shifting schools into the athletic districts that they’ll compete in for the next two years. But the organization released the cutoff numbers on Wednesday in order to “increase transparency and provide for additional verification of enrollment figures.”
On the surface, Waco High’s jump to Class 6A would seemingly reunite the Lions with the Killeen ISD schools, Copperas Cove, Temple (which will also make the jump from 5A), Belton and Midway. However, that group consists of nine schools in all, and the UIL prefers to cap districts at eight.
“It’s just speculation, but there is the possibility of one the schools on the south end (like Belton) moving down to a district with the Round Rock, Pflugerville and Leander schools,” Tusa said. “Of course, we’re on the northernmost end of that group. So we could end up with some schools in the Metroplex, going up toward Dallas or Fort Worth. You can speculate, but you won’t know until Feb. 1.”
Waco High’s crosstown brother University will remain in Class 5A for all sports, and in 5A Division II for football. Asked if the Lions and Trojans would still meet on the football field as a nondistrict game, Tusa said, “That’s something we’ll discuss.”
Like Waco High, University could venture in a variety of directions when the UIL creates its districts. Schools like Ennis and Corsicana are also in Class 5A Division II, so the Trojans could go north. Currently, University and Waco High are linked with a variety of schools in the Bryan-College Station area, and A&M Consolidated and Bryan Rudder are also in 5A Division II for the next realignment.
The majority of Central Texas schools will stay put in their current classification, based on Wednesday’s numbers. Besides Waco High and Temple, schools that will be on the move include Bruceville-Eddy (from Class 3A to 2A), Marlin (3A to 2A) and Hamilton (rising from 2A to 3A).
Some schools will shift to different football divisions within their classification, like Mart (157 students), which will go from 2A Division I to 2A Division II. That means Mart will not be in a football district with schools like Bosqueville, Riesel or Crawford, but more likely with Bremond, Chilton and Hubbard.
Among six-man schools, Bynum (54 students) and Kopperl (49) will both shift from 1A Division I to 1A Division II, which has an enrollment of 55 students and under.
It makes sense that schools would rather be one of the bigger fish in a smaller pond than vice versa. But, ultimately, you’ve got to swim in the pond you’re given.
“Whatever trail we hunt, that’s the one we’re sniffing,” Tusa said. “We’re going to keep a positive attitude and let it all play out.”