AUSTIN (KXAN) — Stagnant enrollment numbers at Austin High School pushed their athletic programs one classification down when the University Interscholastic League announced district realignment for the 2016-2018 athletic calendars. It means the Maroons will say goodbye to longtime rivals like Westlake and Bowie, but their new rivals will, ironically, be much more historical.
“We are excited to rekindle some old rivalries Austin High used to have,” said Austin HS head football coach Mike Rosenthal.
Indeed, 2016 will be a step into a half-century ago with the seven team District 25 5-A comprised entirely of Austin schools. For those old enough to remember, it is as if the Maroons are going back to their roots.
“We are rejoining them. This is going to be a good thing for Austin High and those rivalries will not take long to build up,” said Scotty Sayers with the Austin High Alumni Association and a graduate of the 1970 class.
During those days, Austin High was centrally located just a few blocks from House Park. McCallum was their biggest rival according to Sayers, but then came Reagan High.
“A lot of the Austin High kids went to Reagan and it diluted the talent,” he said. “Reagan was the new kid on the block and ended up winning state titles, somewhat at the expense of Austin High.”
Austin High, Reagan, and McCallum are all back in the same district along with LBJ, Lanier, Travis, and Crockett for at least the next two seasons. They leave behind Lake Travis, Westlake, Bowie, Hays, Akins, Anderson, Del Valle, and Lehman. The reunion comes as enrollment district wide is in decline and expected to continue its decline by nearly 7.5% over the next ten years. Austin Independent School District has said the cost of housing is the biggest contributing factor.
When Sayers attended Austin High, the school was downtown and surrounded by homes. Now that building is an Austin Community College Campus and those homes are law offices and other businesses. Austin High’s current location is on Lady Bird Lake near MoPac, but despite a budding population, other schools are seeing the gains.
But a drop in classification is a welcome change for alums like Sayers who believe the Maroons will have the opportunity to be more competitive.
“It is a more a natural fit and it will be a more level playing field.”