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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
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Thursday, December 23, 1999

Eagles' realignment fate up in air

Staff Writer
PECOS, Dec. 23, 1999 -- Enrollment figures have been turned in, and the University Interscholastic League is busy right now figuring out exactly how Texas' 1,000-plus high schools will be aligned beginning in the fall of 2000.

But as of now, what kind of trips and what district rivals the Pecos Eagles will have for the next two years is very much up in the air.

"Nobody knows. Nobody knows anything right now," Pecos-Barstow-Toyah athletic director Bubba Williams said last week about the changes, which will be announced Feb. 1.

After years of speculation that Pecos would be moved into an El Paso-area district, that finally came true in 1998, when the UIL put the Eagles in with five schools from towns just outside El Paso, to create a new Class 4A district. The move split the Eagles off from the 4A district they had been part of for the previous 18 years, with Andrews, Fort Stockton, San Angelo Lake View, Sweetwater and Big Spring.

Snyder, which had been a member of that district between 1980 and 1990, replaced Pecos as a member of the new District 5-4A.

While the move meant more travel time for Pecos' teams, with no trip shorter than 175 miles, it boosted the results of several programs last season. The Eagles' volleyball team won their first district title since 1992 and the tennis team won its first-ever district crown. Pecos' football team ended a 23-year playoff drought, the softball team won their district title in only its second year of play, and the Eagles' baseball team reached the regional semifinals, after missing post-season play for seven straight seasons.

That could change if the Eagles are put back in the tougher-overall District 5-4A. But if Pecos is moved back, they could find a far different district than the one they left behind.

That's because both Fort Stockton and Sweetwater could drop to Class 3A next year, depending on how high the UIL increases the minimum enrollment levels for Class 4A. Two years ago, the minimum number jumped by 70, from 699 to 769. Another jump of 70 this year would bring the minimum number to 839, and Fort Stockton reported just over 800 students in high school, while Sweetwater turned in an enrollment under 800 for October, the month the UIL uses to decide classification levels.

A jump to 839 would have also caught Pecos _ if they turned in their enrollment total from two years ago. Pecos High School had 835 students in October of 1998, but this past October, Williams said the school turned in an enrollment of 893, which virtually assures the Eagles of at least two more years in Class 4A.

But where they'll be is still unknown. With three teams from each district advancing to post-season play, the UIL has preferred putting six to eight teams in each district. If Sweetwater is the only school to drop to Class 3A, there's a good chance the Eagles will fill their spot in District 5-4A. If Fort Stockton drops as well, the odds are better that Pecos will stay in their current El Paso district, and the remaining four schools from 4-5A _ Andrews, Big Spring, Snyder and Lake View _ would be divided up between districts in the Lubbock and Brownwood areas.

Meanwhile, out in El Paso, neighboring high school Ysleta and Del Valle, along with El Paso Jefferson, all are right at the border between Class 4A and 5A enrollments. Currently, the area has 13 schools in Class 5A and 11 in Class 4A _ if Del Valle or Jefferson were to drop down, that would probably send the Eagles back towards the Permian Basin area.

Even if those schools stay where they are, the odds are Pecos can expect only two more years with their current district rivals. A new high school will be opening next year on the north side of El Paso, and will take students from the current El Paso Austin, Irvin and Andress districts. All are smaller Class 5A schools that could drop to 4A levels (currently 1769 and below) in 2002.

Pecos managed to be the smallest "big school" in the Class 4A football playoffs this past November, with an enrollment 925 fewer than their opponent, Ysleta. They were the third biggest school in District 2-4A this year, behind Canutillo and El Paso Mountain View. But next year, Pecos will drop to No. 4 if the district stays the same, as San Elizario reported an enrollment of 916 students in October.

Both San Elizario and Fabens were below the Class 4A cutoff in 1998, but petitioned the UIL to go 4A in order to cut down on travel costs. Alpine and Presidio are currently the schools furthest west in Class 3A, but Alpine (along with Crane and Ballinger) may drop to Class 2A next year.

In the Permian Basin/Big Country/South Plains region, no school appears likely to jump from Class 3A to 4A. Abilene Wylie missed the 4A cutoff by one student in 1998, but the Abilene Reporter-News said 13 other 3A schools have reported larger enrollments than Wylie. However, the Bulldogs could find Sweetwater as their new district rival next fall, while Fort Stockton would join Monahans, Kermit, Greenwood and Presidio if they drop down.

Rec department continues basketball sign-ups

PECOS, Dec. 23, 1999 -- The Reeves County Community Sports and Recreation Department is continuing registration for men's and youth basketball leagues, which will begin play early next year.

Registration forms for the men's league can be picked up at the RCCRD office at the old Pecos High School gym weekdays between 5 and 9 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays. Registration will continue through Jan. 7, according to Recreation Department director Nora Geron.

Registration times for the PeeWee Basketball Leagues are also from 5 and 9 p.m. weekdays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays at the RCCRD office. The games will begin after the high school basketball seasons end in February.

The PeeWee leagues are open to boys and girls ages 5 through 10 with a deadline to sign up of Jan. 28. Geron said anyone who signs up before Jan. 7 will receive five weeks of ball handling and basic fundamentals before they start playing in regular games.

For further information on either league, call the recreation department at 447-9776.

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Pecos Enterprise
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