(Orange, Texas)

February 7, 2014

Realignment certainly helps "the average"

Van Wade
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — I had to wait a few days before putting a lot of thought into the UIL Realignment that took place Monday.

I finally pinched myself realizing it wasn’t April, but plenty of foolish things took place Monday.

The Bush administration would’ve certainly been in love with the University Interscholastic League because there are “no children left behind.”

Just when you thought there would be no major changes, the UIL always throw out new wrinkles that leave you scratching your head.

I can’t wait to hear West Orange-Stark football coach Cornel Thompson and Orangefield football coach Josh Smalley give that pre-district pep talk next year.

Maybe it will go like this: “Okay men, we’ve prepared all offseason and have had a six-game non-district schedule, now go out there and win that first district game and we’re in the playoffs.”

I know that will not happen just because of the competitive nature of those two coaches. However, that’s all the Mustangs and Bobcats have to do is win one district game and they’re in the playoffs.

Of course, the UIL is all about the game of football, creating Division I and Division II levels across the board in all classes.

However, Class 4A Region III, Division II District 9 is a joke, along with the rest of the region.

The region has four districts comprised of five teams apiece. So folks, that means that 16 of the 20 teams in the region will make the playoffs. Talk about “no child left behind”, well, almost.

The four-team playoff system across the board in all sports is a joke, especially in football where those districts have lesser teams than most of the districts in all the other sports. I thought it was bad before, now it’s even worse.

Teams simply don’t get rewarded for winning anything anymore. “No child left behind.”

Winning district just doesn’t have the impact that it once had. Everyone makes the playoffs, everyone makes all-district, everyone gets a ribbon. It’s just ridiculous across the board. No wonder kids today want everything handed to them without paying their dues. We see that a lot in the workforce today and it just continues to get worse.

If I was a coach that took a team to the playoffs, I would worry more and more about injuries playing a team that had a losing record in the first round of the playoffs.

One example, and thank goodness it didn’t happen last football season, was the Fairfield vs. Diboll 3A bidistrict game.

Fairfield entered that game 10-0 while those Fighting Lumberjacks from Diboll were 1-9. Diboll entered its last regular season game against 0-9 Huntington and won the game to make the postseason.

Now, what if, just what if, Fairfield lost its starting quarterback or 1,500-yard running back to injury against a 1-9 team. I think I would’ve filed criminal charges against the UIL if that happened. Well, it didn’t, Fairfield won 60-6, that’s right folks, 60-6, and advanced to the 3A Division II state title game.

The UIL pushed for the four-team playoff system but I think superintendents across the state have as much blame as the UIL, because they are the ones that passed it through. Three teams in the postseason was too much now we have four teams going to the postseason.

“No child left behind” I guess. Let’s not make our kids go out and earn anything.

I can’t believe superintendents across the state have not allowed C and C-plus students to make the honor rolls at school yet. After all, it’s all about rewarding the average while tossing the champions in the same box.

The perfect scenario would be like the way Louisiana handles things. They seed the teams across the river before the playoffs start. The higher seeds, (aka district champions) get to play on their homefield all the way up to the state championship game. It would be great to throw district champions and elite teams a bone, but it won’t ever happen in our state, not with all the power brokers involved.

The 4A Region III Division II football fiasco, however, wasn’t the biggest joke of the day.

How about the Class 4A Region III District 20-4A for all the other sports.

It consists of Diboll, Huntington, Jasper and Lufkin Hudson. That’s four teams folks. That means every team in the district will make the playoffs in every single sport. That’s right. Every single sport. The Huntington Red Devils athletic program can throw a parade and coaching resumes will start to look real good in that little league. That’s disgusting.

On a positive note, I’m happy for Little Cypress-Mauriceville. The Bears went from being the runt of the litter to being the bullies on the block.

The Bears will certainly flex their muscles in their new districts but they will have to compete against some pretty solid competition. There may be less players to choose from at Bridge City, Orangefield and WO-S than Central, Nederland and PN-G but the competition will be fierce and rivalries renewed.

One final request to Coach Thompson and Coach Smalley: “Just beat Liberty guys and you both can send a sportswriter to the postseason dance. I’ve already ordered my tux.”