Christmas is today, but the Tolar sports program got an early gift from the University Intescholastic League.
When conference cutoff numbers were released earlier this month, Tolar football coach Mike Franklin was among those watching closely. He knew the Rattlers would be right on the cusp of either moving up to 3A or staying in 2A, having turned in an enrollment of 203.
They’re staying in 2A, he learned, the cutoff being 220 for those in 3A.
Of course, staying in 2A actually means going back down a classification. Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, with the addition of a Class 6A, all classifications are moving up a notch, meaning six-man now becoming Class A, A becoming 2A, and so on.
Tolar will be in 2A Division I for football, meaning they would be in Class A under the current classification format. They spent many years in Class A and enjoyed much success in all sports.
And that, Franklin said, is why the change is important for Tolar.
“It’s going to be great for our overall sports program. We’re going to be more competitive across the board, I believe,” said Franklin, calling it simply a matter of numers.
In 3A, enrollment ranges from 220 to 464. In Tolar’s case, had they not dropped down, their teams would be playing some schools with more than twice as many students in non-football sports. Even in football, larger schools would have an enrollment of nearly 100 more students.
But in 2A, the biggest difference in football would be 61 students, and in other sports, the biggest difference would be around 100.
In Class A Tolar was a perennial district championship contender in girls and boys basketball, baseball dominated district and was even state ranked, softball enjoyed deep playoff runs, and track was among the best in the state.
“I think we can get back to that,” said Franklin. “We’ve had some success in 2A, nothing to be ashamed of.”
The Rattlers football team has made back-to-back second-round playoff appearances and posted an 18-6 record in 2A. Boys basketball has reached the postseason, and track has sent athletes to Austin.
Franklin believes the experience of competing in the current 2A system, whatever the sport, will help bring the overall program back to its previous level of overall elite status next season.
As for his own sport, Franklin said while the enrollment numbers are closer, area teams are among the toughest around in Class A (soon to be 2A). For example, Goldthwaite and Hico met in the fourth round of the Division I playoffs this past weekend, and DeLeon reached the third round of Division I (losing to Goldthwaite).
“Football didn’t get any easier,” he said. “Friday nights are going to be a fight no matter which direction we go.”
Teams will find out into which districts they will be realigned on Feb. 3.
Granbury will move to 5A (which is currently 4A), and Lipan will be in Class A, which will no longer be divided into Division I and II.
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