2021 Texas High School Football Program Rankings: What you need to know

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This is always a fun time of year — the Texas high school football season is (at long last) over, and we have an opportunity to reflect on what we just saw and gear up for what's ahead.

It's also time for Dave Campbell's Texas Football to roll out what's become an annual tradition: the Texas high school football Six-Year Program Rankings. For the third consecutive season, we're taking a deep dive into the strength of all nearly-1,200 Texas high school football programs.

What are they? Here's an excerpt from the intro to the rankings:

With data help from Jerry Forrest at PigskinPrep.com, Dave Campbell's Texas Football is proud to unveil the 2020 edition of its Texas High School Football 6-Year Program Rankings, a look at the relative strength of each UIL Texas high school football program. The goal of the project is to rank the relative strength of every program in Texas over the course of the last six seasons.

Why six seasons? A six-year sample provides a steady measure of a program as opposed to an individual squad — six years represents one-and-a-half graduation cycles, mitigating the impact of a single transcendent class of athletes. In short: good programs have great teams one or two years, but great programs have great teams spread across a larger swath of time, like six years.

The rankings are based on a formula that takes into account the following five criteria:

Games Won — The raw number of games a team won relative to the maximum number possible (96 for 11-man teams, 90 for 6-man teams); so, of the maximum number of games a team could have won, how many did it win?
Winning Percentage — Of the games a team played, how many did it win?
10-Win Seasons — Of the six seasons, how many did a team win 10 games?
State Championships — How many state titles did a team win?
State Championship Game Appearances — How many state championship games did a team play?

The criteria are set against a 100-point scale, wherein a perfect six-year run — 96-0 (or 90-0 for a six-man team) with six state championships — would result in a score of 100, and a perfectly miserable six-year run — 0-96 (or 0-90 for a six-man team) — would result in a score of zero.

This year's set of rankings reflect the 2015 through 2020 seasons; last year's rankings reflected the 2014 through 2019 seasons. Please note: a team must have played in six varsity seasons to be eligible for these rankings. As a result, teams like Alvin Shadow Creek and Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial will not appear in these rankings. Additionally, teams that did not play in 2020 — like Dell City and Malakoff Cross Roads — have been dropped from the rankings.

DCTF Insiders can view the complete rankings — all 1,195 teams — right here!

After digging through the data and sifting through the numbers, here are a few things that stuck out to me about our third annual Six-Year Program Rankings.

Churn At The Top
In some ways, the major headline is unchanged — for the third consecutive season, the Aledo Bearcats find themselves ranked No. 1 in our Six-Year Program Rankings. But if you zoom out even just a little bit, you'll see some significant changes in the upper echelon of our rankings. Carthage surged up to grab the No. 2 spot, bumping last year's silver medalist Richland Springs down a spot. No. 8 Austin Westlake, No. 9 Galena Park North Shore and No. 10 Gunter are all newcomers to the top 10. And if you look at the top 15, there's even more party crashers, including No. 13 Denton Ryan, No. 14 Balmorhea and No. 15 Argyle. The biggest tumbler in the top 25 is Bremond, which fell 18 spots to No. 25 as the first of their three consecutive state championships (2014) cycles off their résumé.

Looking For A Boost? Win A Title.
Our Six-Year Program Rankings put a premium on state championships, so it's no wonder that almost all 12 of the state champions took a big step forward this season. 6A Division I champion Austin Westlake is up 13 spots to No. 8; 6A Division II champ Katy rose six spots to No. 12; 5A Division I champion Denton Ryan is up 18 spots to No. 13; there was nowhere for 5A Division II champion Aledo to go, so they maintain their perch at No. 1; Argyle, fresh off their 4A Division I title, is up five spots to No. 15; Carthage is now chief challenger to No. 1 Aledo, as the 4A Division II champion Bulldogs are up six spots to No. 2; surprising 3A Division I state champion Jim Ned made the biggest leap of anybody, rising an astonishing 443 spots from No. 580 to No. 137; believe it or not, 3A Division II champion Canadian dropped two spots from No. 5 to No. 7, by virtue of replacing a 15-0 state championship...with a 15-1 state championship; 2A Division I state champion Shiner is up 46 spots to No. 35; fresh off their upset of three-time defending champion Mart, the newly minted 2A Division II champion Windthorst launched 221 spots to No. 93; Sterling City's first state championship in 1A Division I vaulted them 152 spots to No. 70; and Balmorhea brought home its first state title in 1A Division II, and rose 14 spots to No. 14 as a result.

On Deck...
Because these are Six-Year Program Rankings, you must have six varsity seasons under your belt to be eligible for the rankings, and that leaves out a fair number of heavy hitters. Among the teams not yet eligible for these rankings, the top five would be: Alvin Shadow Creek, Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial, Midlothian Heritage, Frisco Reedy and San Antonio Harlan.

Making The Leap...And Stumbling
By virtue of the structure of these rankings, you can see some pretty wild changes from one year to the next — by cycling off 2014 and replacing it with 2020, some teams see a huge leap and others see a massive drop. The biggest risers in this year's rankings: No. 137 Jim Ned (up 443 spots), No. 292 Lindale (up 437 spots), No. 741 New Braunfels Canyon (up 371 spots), No. 364 Llano (up 361 spots) and No. 414 Fannindel (up 352 spots). The fastest fallers in this year's rankings: No. 882 Mount Calm (down 415 spots), No. 615 Throckmorton (down 411 spots), No. 979 Frisco Heritage (down 371 spots), No. 1,060 Welch Dawson (down 365 spots) and No. 978 Karnes City (down 350 spots).

Other Notes
The highest-ranked Class 6A team is Austin Westlake (last year, it was Allen); in Class 5A, it's Aledo (again); in Class 4A, it's Carthage (same as last year); in Class 3A, it's Canadian (same as last year); in Class 2A, it's Mart (last year, it was Refugio); and in 1A, it's Richland Springs (same as last year.

The highest-ranked teams with the exact same résumé: Nos. 95 Sunnyvale and Fort Bend Ridge Point — both are 57-15 over the past six years, with no title game appearances and three 10-win seasons apiece.

The highest-ranked team without a state championship: No. 28 Corpus Christi Calallen...the highest-ranked team without a title game appearance: No. 34 Geronimo Navarro...the highest-ranked team without a 10-win season: No. 316 Georgetown.

Make sure you check out the complete Six-Year Program Rankings right now — and if you aren't a Dave Campbell's Texas Football Insider, now's a perfect time!

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