The Highland Park football team will have to fuel up the bus for the next two years, thanks to the UIL’s new Class 5A realignment.
After dropping down from Class 6A, the Scots will now be in a geographically diverse District 7-5A Div. I, which spans almost 200 miles from east to west, after the release of biennial district pairings on Thursday.
The new opponents in the eight-team league will include Burleson Centennial, Cleburne, Joshua, Midlothian, Red Oak, Tyler, and Lufkin. None of those schools are in Dallas County.
It will be a dramatic change from the past two seasons, when HP has competed in Class 6A alongside several foes closer to home.
However, with the Scots falling below the 6A cutoff line this time, they will return to the classification where they have made consistently deep playoff runs, including three consecutive state titles between 2016 and 2018.
The pairings are different for HP in other team sports including basketball, volleyball, baseball, and softball, where the Scots will be part of an eight-team District 12-5A with Carrollton Creekview, Carrollton Newman Smith, Carrollton R.L. Turner, Frisco Lone Star, Frisco Reedy, Frisco Wakeland, and The Colony.
Football is the only sport in which classifications are divided into separate divisions, thus the difference. Realignment for other sports with lower statewide participation — including soccer, tennis, wrestling, and swimming — will be released in the coming weeks.
The Scots do not have much recent history on the gridiron against any of their new district foes except for Tyler, which was aligned alongside HP at the 5A Division I level in 2020 and 2021.
For postseason purposes, they will be in 5A Division II Region II, in which the primary rivals appear to be schools in Frisco and the northern suburbs of Austin, such as Cedar Park and Leander.
The Scots have competed as one of the smallest schools at the 6A level for the past two years, including the current school year. But HP has never been in the state’s largest classification for consecutive alignment cycles, which will be the case again.
The Scots are expected to finalize their 2024 and 2025 football schedules, which will include three nondistrict opponents, in the next few days. The season will start on Aug. 30.