Recent news that the UIL is pushing the addition of a Class 6A briefly brought a flutter of hope to a lot of people. Finally, most of us hoped, the UIL is going to separate the mega-schools from everyone else in 5A and give them their own classification.
Instead, the UIL wants to make each classification just a little smaller. That means Class 6A (the current Class 5A) would go from 245 schools to 210. Where would that leave Lake Highlands? Even lower on the enrollment totem pole.
According to the DMN’s story, area schools that would be too small to make the move up to 6A include District 9-5A opponents Jesuit (2,078 enrollment) and Samuell (2,075). Also not making the cut: Saginaw, with an enrollment (per the UIL formula) of 2,120. That’s not many more kids than Lake Highlands’ current enrollment figure of 2,281.
“It would put us even further down the list from a numbers standpoint,” LH football coach and athletic coordinator Scott Smith said. “In the grand scheme, I don’t think it would be as beneficial for Lake Highlands as we would want it to be.”
In case you haven’t noticed, LH is now on the smaller end of Class 5A. It’s the third-smallest school in its district. This is probably a temporary situation. If the number of young families moving into my part of the neighborhood is any indication, eventually, LH’s enrollment numbers will improve.
Obviously, enrollment isn’t the only determining factor in athletic success. Southlake Carroll isn’t much bigger than LH at 2,513. But generally, having a bigger enrollment means a bigger talent pool to choose from and a better chance at athletic success.
On the other hand, LH’s current enrollment figure could be an advantage if the UIL pushes through its other proposal to split Class 5A into two divisions. The top 50 percent of 5A, per enrollment, would be in Division I and the bottom 50 percent would be in Division II. At one point LH looked like it would be one of the smaller schools in the big-school division, but now LH would likely fall into the small-school division.
Under the current system, with playoffs split into divisions by enrollment, LH has always gone into the small-school playoff bracket. But with Jesuit and Samuell being smaller than LH, there’s a good chance LH could go into the big-school playoffs this season. That means potentially going up against schools with 5,000 or more students.
Under the split-division proposal, LH would never have to play an Allen or Plano, or even Skyline.
“I wouldn’t be opposed to the split-division alignment, but I would have to see where the numbers are and where we fell,” Smith said. “We’re kind of in that ‘tweener stage’ as far as our enrollment.”