By BOBBY HORN JR.
The consolidation of the Forest Brook and Smiley High Schools has not only impacted its own students but has caused a ripple effect across District 22-4A.
Earlier this year the UIL (University Interscholastic League) conducted is biennial redrawing of district boundaries. District 22-4A district found itself increasing from eight to nine teams.
Staying in the old 22-4A was to be Smiley and Forest Brook as well as Crosby, Galena Park, Barbers Hill and C.E. King. Leaving the district were New Caney, which moved up to 5A size and Hargrave which moved down to 3A. Dayton, which was in the district two years ago and newcomer Kingwood Park from Humble ISD replaced the schools. Goose Creek Memorial High, which will open in Baytown this fall, also joins the district.
At least that is what the UIL planned.
With the consolidation of the schools, the district fell back to eight teams. The immediate impact was that coaches, especially football coaches, suddenly found themselves with a dilemma. They could fill the extra non-district slot with another game or have two weeks off during the season.
This was easier said than done, as Barbers Hill Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Don Price found out. When we starting looking for another team we found that that most of the local schools had already filled up their calendar so we had to start looking outside the area to make up that game.
Barbers Hill was able to schedule a team from Longview. Because of the distance (about 200 miles or a four and half-hour bus ride), Price said he was hoping that the two schools could find a neutral site.
Al Richard, principal of Goose Creek Memorial, said that they were even looking at some schools in Western Louisiana to play. However, he said, thankfully they were able to make an arrangement with 3A Bellaire Episcopal.
Before the UIL made their final decision, there were rumors that 22-4A would become a nine-team district. Crosby AD and Head Football Coach Kevin Flanagan said that he believed UIL knew that that the consolidation was coming. They (UIL) had to suspect something, he said. Otherwise they wouldnt have made a nine-team, district. It is a lot easier to go from nine teams to eight teams than it is eight teams to seven.
Seeing this as a possibility, Flanagan said that he drew up two schedules so he would have a backup plan. The backup plan involves Crosby playing Bay City in week 10 of the season.
Flanagan also notes that adjustments had to be made on the subvarsity level as the new high school will probably have enough students to create two ninth grade as well as a sophomore and JV squads.
The exact lineup has yet to be determined. North Forest Spokesperson Nakisha Myles said that the district is still working on a plan to consolidate the athletic departments. She said that as early this week they could know which teams they will field and what facilities will be used. Once a new head coach is selected, the district will know the fate of its assistant coaches from both schools.
What is known is that with a larger student pool to draw from North Forest will have a stronger product on the field.
The two schools (Smiley and Forest Brook) have never lacked for talent, Price said. I think that if they get them going in the right direction they are going to be very competitive.
Flanagan shared his opinion. We were the only team to beat Smiley (varsity football) last year, making us co-district champs, he said. And one of Forest Brooks tailbacks (Michael Sigers) is the fastest kid in the district. They are going to be tough.
Crosby, Goose Creeks UIL schedules feel impact of North Forest high school consolidation
By BOBBY HORN JR.