A Baytown community that has seen its three high school football teams separated into three districts can safely expect a family reunion of sorts beginning in the fall.
On Tuesday, the UIL announced the conference cutoff numbers and preliminary enrollment figures for 2020-2022 reclassification and realignment. Robert E. Lee, Ross S. Sterling and Goose Creek Memorial high schools have all been designated as Class 5A-I programs.
Barbers Hill and Crosby’s football teams have remained in the Class 5A-II classification while Anahuac is still a Class 3A-I program.
Statewide district realignment will be announced Feb. 3.
Class 5A-I’s enrollment requirements consist of schools between 1,900 and 2,219 students and programs that are opted up.
Sterling (2,126 students) is the largest school in Goose Creek CISD with Goose Creek Memorial (2,105) next. Robert E. Lee (1,802) fell short of the 5A-I cutoff, but can be opted up, according to athletic director Dr. Bernard Mulvaney.
“The cutoff number is not surprising and we expected all of our schools to be 5A and they are, so that’s a good thing,” Mulvaney said. “With possibly opting up Lee, we could have all three in the same division.
“Lee hasn’t been opted up officially, but we are looking at that. It would make sense to have all three of us in the same division.”
A total of 17 schools below the 1,900 enrollment mark have been classified 5A-I, with 11 coming from the San Antonio area.
The REL coaching staff will have to go up against teams that can be much larger whereas if it had been 5A-II, they would have been one of the largest in the classification.
“It’s going to be a good thing for our community to renew the rivalries and get the interest back in the community for the school district,” REL head coach Timothy Finn said. “No one knows if it’s going to be a good thing for Lee since we are being placed in a classification a little above our enrollment. But, we are excited about the challenge and it should be a lot of fun.”
If the designations hold, having all three Baytown schools in the same district would potentially energize the local fan base.
“It would make sense for all three of our teams to be together,” Mulvaney said. “It would create camaraderie against each other.”
GCM head coach Shannon Carter believes all three teams in the same district would be a shot in the arm for programs that combined to go 9-21 this season with REL leading the way with a 5-5 record. GCM finished 3-7 and Sterling 1-9.
“It’s a good thing for everybody involved and it’s going to be great thing,” Carter said. “It’s always exciting to go against people you grew up with and compete against your fellow community members. I can’t see it being a bad thing at all.”
Now the guessing games begin as the which opponents is in the schools’ future district.
One popular football scenario has the three Baytown schools joining La Porte, Beaumont United, Port Arthur Memorial, New Caney and Porter in a district.
But it is possible three Houston schools could be in the mix as well as questions regarding the future locations of programs from Angleton and Galveston Ball to the Victoria schools.
“Two years ago I would have never seen UIL put Humble in with Pasadena. You never know what they are going to do. It doesn’t matter where you get put in a district, you are going to have to go beat good teams to win a state championship. That’s not easy to do,” Mulvaney said.
Sterling head coach Robert Toomer isn’t worried about what classification as his focus remains on winning no matter whom the Rangers play.
“If it’s 5A or 6A, it’s all competitive,” Toomer said. “There are some 5A teams that can beat 6A ones: Football is football. We don’t know what district we are going to be in now. We are going to sit back, see what we got and go from there.”
In sports such as volleyball, basketball, softball and baseball and the Olympic sports could see a potential district featuring all three schools, Barbers Hill, Crosby, Dayton, Galena Park and La Porte, according to Mulvaney.