Realignment Central presented by James Hardie: Toughest districts from 2020 UIL Realignment

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Skimming over the realignment packet Monday morning, my big goal was to find the districts that jumped out to me immediately.

Sure, I of course looked to see where my hometown Manor and my alma mater Manor New Tech were placed for personal reasons, but overall, I looked for the ones that stood out to me as perhaps the most competitive. And that doesn’t always mean that, that district has the most state contenders, although it helps.

For me, finding the toughest districts means finding the ones that make it seem as though every week is going to be a fight for placement. Where losing one game could mean losing out on the top four or perhaps one early loss in September means you’re all of a sudden scrambling to remain in the playoff hunt. How many teams are traditional playoff/state contenders? But more importantly, how many teams can realistically win this district?

Note that these aren’t ranked, just ordered by classification. For the more numerical/statistical breakdown of how our computers ranked district by difficulty, check out Tepper’s piece from Thursday.

District 11-6A:
Cedar Hill
Mansfield Lake Ridge
Waco Midway

It’s only fair to start here. District 11-6A has already been declared the “District of Doom” by the Dallas Morning News, and rightfully so. Matt Stepp hinted that this was a possibility in his realignment projections, and the three schools that should be at the top (Cedar Hill, DeSoto and Duncanville) are all familiar with each other. But now add-in Mansfield, Mansfield Lake Ridge who can both be top DFW programs (Lake Ridge went 6-1 in 7-6A in 2018 with Cedar Hill and DeSoto) any given year.

But now, you throw in a recent state finalist in Waco Midway who won 11 and nine games in 2018 and 2019? Brutal.

District 21-6A:
Beaumont West Brook
Galena Park North Shore
Humble Atascocita
Humble Kingwood
Humble Summer Creek
Houston C.E. King

Two-time reigning 6A DI state champion? Check. 2018 6A DII state finalist? Check. A team whose only losses in 2019 were to Katy and North Shore? Check. You get the picture.

That wasn’t even including Humble who won double-digit games in back-to-back seasons or Houston C.E. King who fielded one of the more underrated defenses in the state in 2019.

District 27-6A:
Cibolo Steele
Smithson Valley
Converse Judson
New Braunfels
San Antonio East Central
San Antonio Wagner
Schertz Clemens
South San Antonio

Now this district is basically an exact transposing of District 26-6A from last realignment with the addition of San Antonio Wagner, back up from 5A DI, and South San Antonio.

But quick question, who won that district last season? Converse Judson, right? Surely the historic state power did. Nope. Cibolo Steele? The other perennial program in the northern San Antonio area? Wrong again. Okay, was it Smithson Valley, who also won 27-6A in 2017? Nope. It was Schertz Clemens!

That wasn’t supposed to be a knock on the Buffaloes. They’ve always been in the mix in that northern San Antonio cluster, but Clemens winning in 2019, meant that since 2016, a different team in that foursome had won over the past four seasons. Oh, and by the way, Wagner was a two-time state semifinalist after dropping down to 5A DI…so they’re back in the mix too.

District 7-5A DI:
Highland Park
McKinney North
Tyler John Tyler
West Mesquite
Wylie East

We saw this one coming, or at least saw the possibility. In dropping down to 5A DI, Longview was either going west to be with the DFW or more south with Lufkin and Houston-area schools. We got the former and that meant a clash with state power Highland Park. Toss in Tyler John Tyler who are a year out from a regional finals run, McKinney North who posted one of the state’s best offenses last year and Sherman who is always capable of fighting for a playoff spot and you have a competitive and diverse district at the top, middle and near the bottom.

District 11-5A DI:
Austin Anderson
Cedar Park
Pflugerville Hendrickson
Pflugerville Weiss

Quick, count how many teams you think have a realistic shot at winning this district.

It should roughly be about five or six, right? Give or take a school.

You obviously have Cedar Park who, on paper, is the traditional frontrunner. But then you have a regional finalist in Manor, a 6A drop-down in Pflugerville Hendrickson who was a regional finalist just two years ago and another 6A dropdown in Austin Anderson. Pflugerville Weiss jumps up from DII but was one of the most improved teams in the state a year ago and Georgetown is a perennial CenTex staple. One and perhaps two really, really good teams in the Austin area is going to be on the outside looking in come playoff time over the next two seasons.

District 15-4A DI:
Beeville Jones
CC Calallen
CC Tuloso-Midway
CC Miller
Port Lavaca Calhoun

When an 11-1 Beeville Jones is suddenly looking like maybe the fourth or fifth favorite to win a district, you’re looking at a nightmare of a group. Literally every other team in 15-4A DI is a 5A DII drop-down, and three of those teams were regional contenders in the eyes of many. Oh, and by the way, Alice still won nine games and only lost regular season games to C.C. Calallen and Port Lavaca Calhoun.

District 4-2A DI:
San Saba

For the small-school district, I could’ve easily gone with 13-2A DI or 3-2A DII but I went with a more overlooked group. You have a San Saba team that turned a corner the past few years to being a state contender (albeit losing a big senior class), a Winters team that made the playoffs combining with a pair of 3A DII dropdowns including Cisco who are  18-3 over the last two years. On top of that, Flatonia jumps up to DI after an impressive 11-2 season in 2019 before losing to Bremond in the regional semis.

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