Just when it looks like things are all figured out, the University Scholastic League can come in with a heavy weight punch and leave you on the floor.
That’s what happened to a majority of the Texas Panhandle football coaches during the 2024-2026 UIL realignment meeting at Happy State Bank Stadium in Canyon on Thursday morning.
Some coaches opening their packets right at 9 a.m. got a district like they expected. For others, it was a knockout blow they didn’t see coming.
Let’s start with the obvious from the Amarillo-area big schools. After October’s snapshot day and UIL releasing the new cutoff numbers in December there wasn’t expected to be a lot of shake up in Class 5A and there wasn’t.
Amarillo High, Tascosa, and Caprock will stay together in 2-5A Division with Abilene High, Lubbock Coronado, Lubbock Monterey with Lubbock High making the jump from Division II replacing Lubbock-Cooper.
In Class 4A Division I, a very competitive district got much tougher. As expected, West Plains made the move to D-I with Canyon ISD rivals Canyon and Randall along with Dumas, Hereford and Pampa to make up a very solid six-team 2-4A Division I.
“It’s an exciting time,” West Plains head football Adam Cummings said. “This is a very competitive district and one of the best in the state of Texas. We’re happy to be a part of it and we just hope that we can uphold the tradition that these previous five teams have laid down.”
Now for what we didn’t expect, and it starts in Class 3A.
In Division I, Bushland, Dalhart, River Road and Shallowater can start printing 2024 playoff T-shirts. That’s right. The UIL didn’t move those four teams south with Brownfield nor east to Vernon. Instead, they kept all four together to make up 1-3A Division I.
“I was shocked,” Bushland head coach Josh Reynolds said. “You never know what’s going to happen. We had heard a four-team district or a five or six. Now we’re trying to fill a schedule and the end of the day we still need to go compete.”
In Class 3A Division II, Muleshoe went south instead of coming north with Canadian, Childress, Dimmitt, Friona and Tulia. The Mules will now join 2-3A Division II to meet up with Idalou, Littlefield, Lubbock Roosevelt and Slaton making it two five-team districts.
“It sure wasn’t what we expected,” Muleshoe head coach Jason Richards said. “That’s why I was here in Canyon. I thought we may go north. We now get to restore some old rivalries with Idalou, Littlefield and Slaton. We used to play those teams a lot in district battles. I think the UIL did a good job and got it right though in the end. We just have to go to work and see what happens.”
Class 2A is where things get a bit haywire, especially in Division II. In Division I, the obvious happened in 1-2A with last year’s Division II state semifinalist Sunray moving in with Spearman, which moved from Class 3A to match up with Highland Park, Panhandle, Sanford-Fritch and West Texas High.
However, the looming questions were in Division II with Boys Ranch and Booker both dropping into Six-man or formally known as Class 1A. The UIL really made a mess in the Texas Panhandle mixing Division II schools into Region I and Region II.
In Region I, Bovina, Farwell, Gruver, Stratford, and Vega, are now 1-2A Division II. However, though the district stayed the same of Clarendon, Memphis, Quanah, Wellington, Wheeler and Shamrock, those six schools got pushed east to Region II.
“I thought it was a possibility because we did this four years ago,” Wellington head coach Greg Proffitt said. “But I didn’t see teams from Odessa staying in Region I in District 4. We’re just an hour and half from Amarillo but I guess it is what it is. We’ll just make the most of it. We’re just focused on going to play.”
In Class 1A, some new blood has been added as Boys Ranch has decided to start playing Six-Man football and will join Booker, which made that decision last year, along with Claude, White Deer and Wildorado to form District 1-1A Division 1.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Boys Ranch head coach Louis Kelley III said. “We have a great group of players and we’re excited about it. I think it’s the start of a new era for Boys Ranch.”
Hart will jump up from Division II to join District 2-1A Division I with Happy, Springlake-Earth, Kress and Nazareth.
The curveball in Region I was the far west teams being thrown in while Silverton and Valley were moved to Region II with Lorenzo, Petersburg and Spur to form District 5-1A.
In Division II, Miami and Follett drop down from Division I to help form District 1-1A with Darrouzett, Groom and Lefors. The surprise was that McLean, which is also moving down, was moved south with Patton Springs, Motley County, Paducah and Hedley to form District 2-1A.
Texas Panhandle football districts for 2024-2026
Wichita Falls Legacy
Wichita Falls Memorial
West Texas High
Afton Patton Springs
Matador Motley County