By ZACH SMITH, LYNETTE HAALAND
The six LISD schools learned who they’ll regularly play for the next two seasons when the UIL released its alignment Thursday morning.
Vandegrift, Leander and Vista Ridge will form District 13-6A, a nine-team district with all the schools from the Round Rock ISD and Hendrickson.
Class 5A will be split into two divisions based on enrollments for the first time this year. Cedar Park and Rouse are in District 11-5A, Division I with Hutto, Georgetown, Manor, Pflugerville and Connally, while Glenn is in District 14-5A, Division II with Bastrop, Cedar Creek, Elgin, East View, Marble Falls and Weiss.
“In the past, we’ve had a scrimmage and four games,” Vandegrift head coach Drew Sanders said. “You had the chance to really figure out your team. Now that scrimmage becomes even more important. Thank goodness we’re playing a couple good teams.”
The Vipers will begin the regular season with non-district games against Cedar Park and Killeen Ellison before jumping right into district play in week 3.
Vista Ridge will open the season against Rouse and face off with Killeen in Week 2. Leander begins the season against Weiss and continues the rivalry with Pflugerville in the second week of the season.
With an enrollment of 2,199, Leander is one of the smallest Class 6A schools in the state, having missed the Class 5A cutoff number by nine students.
“It’s going to be tough no matter what district you’re in,” Leander head coach Tim Smith said. “There are good coaches in Round Rock and at Hendrickson. We just have a couple weeks to evaluate our kids, but we’ll get it done.”
Leander ISD and Round Rock ISD were originally planning to be in the same district during the last realignment, but the LISD 6A schools went south instead.
Coaches were forced to scramble for non-district opponents and Vandegrift ended up facing Odessa Permian in a home-and-home.
“Geographically, this makes sense,” Sanders said. “There are some really good teams there. It’s exciting because we get to prepare for some new teams. It’s nice to prepare for new tendencies and new coaches.”
Five teams from the district Cedar Park and Rouse are apart of made the playoffs last year, and Pflugerville — with an enrollment of 2,055 — will be one of the largest Class 5A schools in the state.
Rouse is familiar with both the Panthers and the Mustangs. They were in a district together with Pflugerville before dropping down to Class 5A and have played Manor in the first game of the season the last two years, going 1-1 in that span.
“From a familiarity standpoint, it’s nice,” Rouse head coach Josh Mann said. “It’s a heck of a district. It’s going to be a battle every week and we’ll see how it falls.”
The Raiders will face Vista Ridge, Anderson, Weiss and finish their non-district slate against A&M Consolidated.
Cedar Park will go up against Vandegrift, Cedar Ridge, San Angelo Central and Katy Cinco Ranch in the first four weeks of the season.
“I like to have the multiple non-district games,” Mann said. “Especially with the limited time we get. What we can’t do in two-a-days like we used to, I like having extra games. It gives you more time to identify your team.”
Glenn’s first district alignment features another school, Weiss, which also received its first alignment and also the longest trip of any LISD team, a 100-mile drive to Brenham.
Grizzlies head coach Rob Schoenfeld said with the wealth of 5A, Division II teams in Houston, it was unknown which way the Cubs would fall.
“For the most part, the district is what I expected it to be,” Schoenfeld said. “It feels great. I don’t really like to worry about what I can’t control. The addition of Brenham was a little surprise, but not a total shock.”
While the 6A district will stay the same for volleyball and basketball, the 5A schools will condense geographically to form Division 17-5A, which will feature Cedar Park, Rouse, Glenn, Marble Falls, Pflugerville, Connally and Weiss.