It doesn't do any good to guess how the makeup of districts and classifications for high school athletics in Texas public schools will change when the UIL announces its biennial realignment Thursday morning.

Only University Interscholastic League officials have the skinny, and they're not talking.

It wouldn't be a stretch to say that the UIL, which governs public school extracurricular activities in the state, guards the new alignment like a state secret.

"I don't think anybody knows until they open their packets," said Scott Lehnhoff, athletic director of the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD, on Wednesday night.

Always a subject of interest throughout the state, the UIL's announcement on realignment will be carried live at 9 a.m. Thursday on Fox Sports Southwest.

"It's always interesting," New Braunfels ISD athletic director Jim Streety said. "We'll see what happens."

The UIL uses enrollment figures to realign districts every two years. The new realignment will cover the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years.

San Antonio area football coaches will gather at the Region 20 Texas Education Center to pick up their packets and fill their non-district schedules through 2019.

Since the UIL released cutoff enrollment numbers for each of its six classifications last fall, coaches knew which class their schools would compete in for the next two years. But the alignment of the districts was still an unknown.

Karen Funk, North East ISD athletic director, looks over paperwork at the announcement of the 2016 UIL realignment at the Region 20 Texas Education Center.
Karen Funk, North East ISD athletic director, looks over paperwork at the announcement of the 2016 UIL realignment at the Region 20 Texas Education Center.

There will be something new in football for schools in Class 5A, the UIL's second-largest classification. Class 5A will be divided into 16 Division I districts and 16 Division II districts. Schools with enrollments of 1,840 to 2,189 will be in 5A Division I, and schools with enrollments of 1,150 to 1,839 will compete in Division II.

Guarded closely by education center officials, copies of the reclassification and realignment are kept in sealed cardboard boxes until 9 a.m.

"How the UIL keeps it a secret, I don't know," former North East ISD athletic director Jerry Comalander mused one year. "But it does."

By 9:01, coaches start negotiating for game dates at a frenetic pace.

"It's kind of like that movie Trading Places, where they ring the bell at the Stock Exchange and everybody is standing there and their arms go up," Comalander said. "They're looking to sell something or buy something, and that's what a lot of coaches are doing at 9 o'clock in the morning."

Lehnhoff will attend his first realignment meeting as an athletic director after four seasons as head football coach at Steele.

"That's what I imagine Wall Street to be like," Lehnhoff said, referring to the scene that unfolds when coaches get their packets. "Everybody rushes the poor lady who's up there handing them out. I remember last time we did this, my packet fell to the floor and was rolling around. There were other people rushing this lady to get their packets and I'm down there trying to grab mine off the floor.

"You see instant jubilation with some coaches who get a good draw and you see others that get a look of concern across their face because they know the challenges that are going to come up the next two years. It's an exciting time. Once people get their packets, they've got their whiteboards and have what games, what weeks they need to fill on their schedule."

SAISD assistant athletic director Brian Clancey, left, keeps his eyes on the board as he works on football schedules after the UIL announced its realignment in 2016.
SAISD assistant athletic director Brian Clancey, left, keeps his eyes on the board as he works on football schedules after the UIL announced its realignment in 2016.

Streety chuckled when he was asked what the scene is like when more than 100 athletic directors and football coaches in a room work frantically to complete their schedules.

"The first thought that comes to my mind would be organized chaos, because for about 30 minutes it is pretty chaotic," Streety said. "There's always a surprise. The people that get surprised are the most chaotic because they thought they had their games, thought they had everything planned out. But the next thing you know, it didn't work out that way and they have to do something else.

"For us, it's pretty easy because we've had the traditional season opener with Alamo Heights followed by our traditional rival Seguin. We've played those schools for years and those games are going to be pretty static. That's not going to change."

After non-district schedules are set, coaches from each district huddle to draw dates for their league games.

With so many coaches gathered in one place, the announcement of realignment gives the event the feel of a mini-convention.

"It is a little bit of a reunion," Streety said. "But another side note about this is sometimes, shortly after realignment, you see some jobs come open too, when guys end up where they didn't want to be. They may have been thinking about trying to make a move anyway. The realignment wasn't nice to them, and they said, 'Yeah, it's time to move on now for sure.'"