Dropping down, raising expectations
Some of Class 4A and 3A's top contenders in 2012 are moving down a class; will that help them?
The 2012 Summer Edition of Dave Campbell's Texas Football won't hit newsstands for another three months -- an eternity to football fans across the state -- but let me offer a little bit of a spoiler to what you'll see inside the pages of this year's "bible of Texas football."
Programs that are moving down a classification -- that is, Class 5A to 4A or Class 4A to 3A -- will have lofty, lofty expectations.
That's not to say that we're making them stone cold locks to win their respective state championships; far from it. But with teams like Denton Guyer and Georgetown (moving from 5A to 4A), and El Campo, La Marque and Stephenville (moving from 4A to 3A) making a move down in classification, it's hard to put together a list of 2012's top contenders and not mention these programs.
That's because these are squads that had success at their higher classification, so it stands to reason that they will have success against schools with smaller enrollments.
Of course, we don't have to speculate. We have data to back up this assertion.
Much like we did a week ago with the piece on programs being elevated a classification -- in short, while there is a track record for elite programs moving up to continue their success, the majority of teams finish at or below .500 in their first season playing up -- we're going to take a look at programs who moved down a classification during the last UIL Realignment back in February 2010.
Two years ago, there were a total of 30 programs who moved down from Class 5A or 4A, ranging from burgeoning powerhouses (like Henderson) to struggling also-rans (like Galveston Ball). But more often than not, programs who took a step down in classification saw a strong measure of success in their first season playing down.
Here is the data for your perusement.
|School||Class Move||2010 Record||Playoffs|
|Cedar Park||5A to 4A||13-1||State quarterfinals|
|Henderson||4A to 3A||13-2||DI state champion|
|John Tyler||5A to 4A||12-2||State quarterfinals|
|Humble||5A to 4A||11-2||Regional semifinals|
|Wylie||5A to 4A||11-4||State semifinals|
|Bastrop||5A to 4A||10-4||State quarterfinals|
|Pflugerville Connally||5A to 4A||10-2||Area|
|Smithson Valley||5A to 4A||10-2||Area|
|CP Vista Ridge||5A to 4A||9-3||Regional semifinals|
|Mansfield Summit||5A to 4A||9-3||Area|
|Lindale||4A to 3A||8-4||Regional semifinals|
|Houston Stratford||5A to 4A||6-5||Bi-district|
|Dallas Newman Smith||4A to 3A||6-5||Bi-district|
|Mineral Wells||4A to 3A||6-5||Bi-district|
|Burleson||5A to 4A||5-5|
|Dallas Molina||5A to 4A||5-5|
|Big Spring||4A to 3A||5-5|
|Lampasas||4A to 3A||5-5|
|Pleasanton||4A to 3A||5-5|
|Rockport-Fulton||4A to 3A||5-5|
|Clint Mountain View||4A to 3A||4-7||Bi-district|
|New Caney||5A to 4A||3-7|
|Pampa||4A to 3A||3-7||Bi-district|
|Carrollton Creekview||5A to 4A||2-8|
|FW Polytechnic||4A to 3A||2-8|
|Mabank||4A to 3A||2-8|
|Baytown Lee||5A to 4A||1-9|
|Galveston Ball||5A to 4A||1-9|
|Houston Spring Woods||5A to 4A||1-9|
|Rio Grande City||5A to 4A||1-9|
Of the 30 teams that dropped a classification, 16 of them -- more than half -- made the playoffs in their first year in a smaller class. In fact, 66% of the teams finished .500 or better in their first season; compare that to just 34% of teams making the step up a classification.
And there's no shortage of teams immediately reaching truly elite heights in their first season down; drop-downs constituted one of the four state champions (Henderson's 3A title), another state semifinalist (Wylie in 4A) and three state quarterfinalists (Cedar Park, John Tyler and Bastrop, all in 4A). That bodes well for teams like La Marque, Stephenville and Denton Guyer, teams who are moving down with hopes of immediately contending for a state championship.
It by no means guarantees success -- teams like FW Polytechnic and Houston Spring Woods, programs who struggled at higher classifications, continued their troubles -- but it most definitely gives teams an opportunity to make an impact sooner as opposed to later.
No one can tell what the future holds -- no, not even Dave Campbell's Texas Football -- but if past is pretense, the teams dropping down a classification will be forces with which to be reckoned in 2012.
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.