MIDLAND The big question for Odessa High and Permian entering Thursday’s University Interscholastic League realignment announcement was whether the Bronchos and Panthers would be placed in a district of six, seven or eight teams.
With San Angelo Central and Abilene High shunted east into District 3-6A, the Ector County schools will compete in a six-team District 2-6A with holdovers Amarillo Tascosa, Wolfforth Frenship, Midland High and Midland Lee.
Todd Vesely, executive athletic director for the Ector County Independent School district, said there were benefits and drawbacks to being in a six-team district after two years of having seven schools for football.
“On the surface, the first thing is advantageous because of the number of teams that go to the playoffs,” Vesley said following the release at the Midland College Advanced Technology Center. “But on the other side of the coin for every other sport that plays twice a week, you lose four games that are in West Texas, and it’s very expensive to find those games elsewhere. It’s very difficult to fill those schedules.”
Thursday’s announcement was just for football, volleyball and basketball, with alignments for other sports to be revealed later. For Class 6A schools, the alignments typically are the same for all sports, but Vesely wouldn’t rule out any changes.
“You never know what to expect,” he said. “We’re hopeful that we’ll have additional teams in our district (for scheduling purposes), but you never know what’s going to happen.”
For both Odessa High football coach Danny Servance and Permian football coach Blake Feldt, the announcement went about as expected. The one snag was that Abilene High, which had tentatively agreed to play both teams, was placed in a seven-team district and had to drop those games.
“We anticipated that’s what was going to happen,” Feldt said. “Abilene’s been out of the district now for a couple of years and San Angelo’s been out of the district for two years in everything except football. Because they sent San Angelo east in everything but football the last realignment period, that was a little bit of an indicator that they may do it with all of their sports with this realignment.”
Permian was able to fill its nondistrict schedule with DeSoto, El Paso Franklin, Southlake Carroll, a yet-to-be-revealed California team and Los Fresnos. Odessa High will play Lubbock Monterey, Buckeye, Ariz., Lubbock Coronado, El Paso Montwood and Big Spring.
“Big Spring was part of the original Little Southwest Conference,” Servance said. “When I played, they were in our district. It is like a continued tradition to play Big Spring. When I was at Odessa Permian, also, we played Big Spring.
“It’s not a big difference. Yeah, they are a 4A team, but they’ve always been a solid opponent. Hopefully, they’ll continue with their winning ways and be a very competitive football team.”
One change that having six teams in the district will cause is that all teams will be able to take open dates in football at the same time. In a seven-team district, one team was off each week through the district schedule.
“I think it’s good to have it right there in the middle,” Servance said, “especially when you play a grueling preseason schedule. You have guys banged up and you don’t have a lot of depth like us at Odessa High.”
Contracts for football games may not be signed and district schedules cannot be set until the conclusion of the appeals process for schools looking to change classification or district assignment. Ector County ISD will be the district chair for 2-6A, and Vesely said the next step is to get the district organized.
“Someone had the foresight for us to sit down and do all of the draws, so we already know our district schedule for football,” he said. “That draw’s already done. And, typically, we use that draw for every other sport throughout the year, so the draw doesn’t change by sport.
“Unfortunately, to do some things for baseball and do some things for volleyball so they’re at home when the football team’s at home, it takes some tinkering and that’s an awful lot of work. That’s our next step.”