According to the University Interscholastic League, DeSoto is supposed to compete in Class 5A sports for the next two years, beginning in the fall. After all, the school reported enrollment of 2,127 falls well below the 2,275 needed to continue qualifying to compete in Class 6A.
Still, while enrollment numbers have declined in DeSoto, the sports programs have continued to excel. Most notably, the football team won the Class 6A Division II state championship in 2022 and is defending its title this weekend against Humble Summer Creek.
The Eagles football team, 14-0 at press time this season, brought a 21-game win streak into that game, perhaps their final contest in 6A.
Meanwhile, the Lady Eagles basketball team won back-to-back 6A state championships in 2021 and 2022 before finishing as state runners-up this past season.
This has led to the raising of the question by some: will DeSoto drop to 5A, or will school officials petition the UIL to remain at the 6A level? The folks in DeSoto have yet to commit to either.
“It is what it is. Those are the numbers we turned in, and that’s where the UIL placed us because of the cutoffs,” said DeSoto Athletic Director and head football coach Claude Mathis. “We will do what’s best for our students.”
Petitioning to remain up in classification has been around for a while. Fort Worth Dunbar, with legendary basketball coach Robert Hughes, petitioned to remain in classification and, like DeSoto, enjoyed much success at that level for years.
Lady Eagles basketball coach Andrea Robinson said, however, that dropping to 5A will hardly be a cakewalk for her team, though they would be leaving the so-called “District of Doom” featuring Duncanville and Cedar Hill. DeSoto is No. 3 in 6A this season, and Duncanville is No. 5.
“There has been no final determination on whether or not we will play 5A or stay up. However, if we play 5A, there are some outstanding teams on that level. The style is just extremely different in many cases.”
As for football, a drop to 5A would put them in the same classification of Aledo, which is going for a state-record 12th state championship this weekend. While the odds are they would not be in the same district or even the same region, a looming state semifinals matchup could be ahead in the future.
The Eagles boys basketball team is ranked No. 14 in the state this season.
If she had her druthers, Robinson would like to keep things intact; it sounds like.
“I would truly miss the traditional rivals and playing the pinnacle competition, of course,” she said. “Winning at the highest level has always been my goal.
But I understand with the drop of enrollment numbers, at some point, lack of 6A numbers will catch up with our athletic programs soon enough.
MIDLOTHIAN HAPPY TO STAY IN 5A
Not that it was ever a question, but the folks in Midlothian seem pretty happy to remain in Class 5A for the next two years after reporting an enrollment of 1,941 for Midlothian High and 1,605 for Heritage. In football, Midlothian will play in Division I and Heritage in Division II once again.
And while things are likely to stay the same in classification, Midlothian ISD Athletic Director Todd York noted that many people are moving to the area, which means more students.
“Midlothian is growing. It does take some time for it to permeate into the high school,” he said. “We expect Heritage to grow to D1 in the next couple of realignments.”
When that happens, odds are the teams will share a district in football, something many folks have wanted for a while.
6A TO WELCOME LANCASTER
With a reported enrollment of 2,322 Lancaster will be moving up from 5A to 6A in the fall. The sports programs have fared very well at the 5A level, with the Tigers reaching the Division I Region II championship game this season.
Also, the Tigers boys basketball team is ranked No. 2 in the state this season and has a long history of success in 5A.
ELSEWHERE AROUND THE AREA
Duncanville: Enrollment 4,710, remaining in 6A.
South Grand Prairie: Enrollment 3,594.5, remaining in 6A.
Grand Prairie: Enrollment 3,158.5, remaining in 6A.
Waxahachie: Enrollment 3,151.5, remaining in 6A.
Mansfield Lake Ridge: Enrollment 2,774, remaining 6A.
Mansfield: Enrollment 2,603, remaining in 6A.
Mansfield Legacy: Enrollment 2,564, remaining in 6A.
Cedar Hill: Enrollment 2,388, remaining in 6A.
Red Oak: Enrollment 2,176, remaining in 5A, Division I for football.
Mansfield Timberview: Enrollment 1,843, remaining 5A, DII for football.
Ennis: Enrollment 1,855, remaining in 5A, DII for football.
Mansfield Summit: Enrollment 1,789, remaining in 5A, DII for football.
Venus: Enrollment 713, remaining in 4A, DII for football.
WHERE WILL THEY PLAY
Football, basketball, and volleyball teams will learn in what district they will compete in on Feb. 1.
Alignments for other sports will be released at a later date. However, that relates primarily to smaller programs. For the most part, teams in the higher classifications will know who they will compete against in all sports come Feb. 1.