UIL Re-Alignment restores some FBISD rivalries

By Michael Sudhalter

Hightower and Ridge Point high schools – the two most successful Fort Bend ISD football programs in recent seasons – began the Battle of the Fort Bend Tollway in 2014.

The rivalry started as a non-district game, with the 6A Hurricanes and 5A Panthers splitting the first two installments.

Starting this fall, the two defending district champions will become district rivals in the newly-created Class 6A-District 20 for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons.

The eight-team district will be comprised of FBISD schools. In addition to Hightower and Ridge Point, it will include Bush, Kempner, Dulles, Clements, Travis and Austin.

“It was what I expected, and I can’t wait to compete against Fort Bend schools we have never played before,” said Sniffin, who led the Panthers to the 5A state semifinals last fall.

Bush will be making the jump from 5A to 6A after qualifying for the playoffs last season.

Kempner head coach Darrin Andrus is glad to welcome the Broncos and Panthers into the district, especially considering that it will provide an additional non-district game for each 6A-20 football program.

“It allows our kids to get to see another team from out of district before starting district play,” Andrus said.

In the first round of the playoffs, 6A-20 teams will face the seven schools from Katy ISD or Houston Strake Jesuit.

While 6A-20 teams will face have far less traveling, three 5A FBISD schools will have far more.

Elkins, Marshall and Willowridge remained at the 5A level, where they’ll face a geographical hodge-podge of opponents in a nine-team 5A-23 district.

The most notable opponent will be football powerhouse Manvel from neighboring Brazoria County.

The district will also include Galveston Ball, Santa Fe and Texas City from Galveston County, as well as Galena Park from Harris County.

Shadow Creek, a new high school in Alvin ISD which is located not far from Willowridge, will compete in 5A-23 as well. Shadow Creek opens this fall and won’t have varsity football until 2017.

In the first round of the playoffs, 5A-23 will meet 5A-24, which is comprised of Houston ISD opponents.

Stafford remains in 4A-12, Division I. All of their district rivals remain the same, with the addition of Sealy, whom the Spartans defeated in the first round of the 2014 4A-I playoffs.

Under the re-alignment, the Spartans will face a Houston ISD in the opening round of the postseason.

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