NORTH RICHLAND HILLS — It probably could have been better, and it certainly could have been worse. But at least Highland Park’s first foray into the state’s new 6A classification won’t take the Scots far from home.
The biennial UIL realignment on Monday put HP in District 10-6A for the next two school years along with Mesquite, Mesquite Horn, North Mesquite, Richardson, Richardson Berkner, Richardson Pearce, and Lake Highlands.
In football, only two of those seven opponents (Horn and North Mesquite) finished with a winning record last season, and just one (Horn) won a playoff game.
The district alignment seems favorable for the Scots on the surface. They won’t have to face teams such as Skyline, Jesuit, or those in Garland ISD. Plus, for those already looking ahead to the postseason, powerhouses Allen, DeSoto, Cedar Hill, and Denton Guyer all wound up in Region I, while HP is in Region II.
“I feel good about the people we’re in a district with,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “The competition is going to be tougher week in and week out when you move up a classification.”
HPISD was elevated to 6A in December after turning in an unofficial snapshot figure of 2,106 students, which is six students above the 6A cutoff line of 2,100. That will make HP one of the smallest 6A schools in the state for the next two years.
It will be the first time HP has moved up in classification since taking a drop from 5A to 4A in the late 1980s. The school has been one of the largest 4A schools in the state for much of the past 25 years.
The new district should help to ease concerns about enrollment disparity for the Scots, who are generally grouped with smaller 6A schools. Only one of their new rivals (Mesquite) has more than 2,650 students.
“Based on the options of where we could have gone in terms of travel, I think it makes sense,” said HP athletic director Johnny Ringo. “For us, I think it’s the best of all worlds for all of our sports. There may be a little bit of a transition period, but I think we’ll be able to hit the ground running.”
Allen said that from a football perspective, learning the new district foes won’t dramatically impact the offseason routine for HP.
“We can focus on who we’re going to be playing. The toughest thing is not knowing who your competition is going to be,” Allen said. “It will help us settle down a little bit.”
Also on Monday, the Scots finalized their 2014 football schedule, which starts with Frisco Centennial (in the Tom Landry Classic at Allen) and includes nondistrict home games against Pulaski Academy of Little Rock, Ark., and Prosper.
Following a bye week, the 10-6A slate will feature three home games (Pearce, Lake Highlands, Richardson) and four road games (North Mesquite, Horn, Mesquite, Berkner). That means three trips to Mesquite next season, and none the following year, when the home and road games are reversed.
As for the nondistrict portion of the schedule, Pulaski will visit HP in consecutive years, and the return game with Prosper will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington in 2015.
The new district alignment also impacts other sports such as basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, golf, and track and field.
The new district does not apply to tennis, soccer, swimming, and wrestling, each of which is reclassified separately by the UIL because of the smaller number of participating schools. However, HP will still be 6A in those sports.