Santa Claus came early for the Rusk Eagles and the Bullard Panthers this year.
On Monday the University Interscholastic league (UIL) released the cutoff numbers of Class 6A-1A for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school terms and the Eagles and the Panthers both are included in Class 4A, Division II.
For the first tme ever, the UIL has added a Class 6-A for schools with enrollments of greater than 2,100 students.
Class 5A will be the home to schools with student populations between 1,060 and 2,099, with Class 4A covering schools with enrollments of 465-1,059.
For football only, Class 4A will be divided into divisions, with Division I being for schools ranging from 686 pupils to 1,059.
Class 4A, Division II will accommodate those between 485 and 685 enrollments, with Rusk and Bullard falling into that category.
In a nutshell, the playing field just got a lot more even for Class 4A schools.
Rusk athletic director/head football coach Ted Patton said that the change should be a real boost to the Eagle football program.
“I think this makes things much more equitable,” Patton said. “We will be competing against schools that are similar in size to us as opposed to playing teams that had nearly twice the number of kids that we have.”
The exact district assignments will not be revealed until early February, but Patton said that he can envision his Eagles potentially being in a circuit with several familiar schools.
“Of course we want know for certain until February, but (geographically) I could see us being in a district with Center, Huntington, Diboll, Bullard and maybe even Coldspring,” Patton said.
That pairing would also be pleasing to the folks in Bullard, but regardless of where the Eagles land, they will not be in the infamous “District of Doom” (aka District 16-3A) because the split will boot Kilgore, Chapel Hill and Henderson up to D-I, with only Gilmer remaining in D-II.