College football’s recent realignment excitement has descended into the high school ranks.
Granted, prep football and other sports in Oklahoma goes through a realignment faze every two years to adjust for the ever-changing enrollment numbers across the state, but that doesn’t take away from the spectacle.
The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association (OSSAA) board of directors approved football districts for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 seasons, and there was quite a bit of shifting among the nine classes.
In District 5A-4, Claremore loses the likes of Glenpool, Sapulpa, Tahlequah and Memorial but adds Grove – which moves up from Class 4A – Bishop Kelley, Thomas Edison and Will Rogers.
The Zebras haven’t shared a district with Edison since 2011, but the teams have played five times since 2016, including twice in 2018. Meanwhile, the Ropers rejoin 5A-4 after a two-year stint in 5A-3.
However, the most intriguing of the four additions are undoubtedly Bishop Kelley and Grove.
The Comets, who have grown into a powerhouse in recent years, are back in 5A-4 for the first time since spending two years in the district from 2016 to 2017. The Ridgerunners have dwelled in Class 4A since 2014, and their return to Class 5A will reignite their rivalry with Claremore.
As for the teams that are leaving the district, Glenpool, Sapulpa and Memorial are moving to 5A-3 while Tahlequah has the misfortune of bumping up to the Class 6A level for the first time since 2007. The Tigers will join Bartlesville, Muskogee, Booker T. Washington, Putnam City West, Sand Springs, Stillwater and U.S. Grant in District 1 of Class 6A-II.
Verdigris and Inola will experience a significant shakeup in District 3A-4 as well, for Class 4A juggernaut Bristow, as well as Cascia Hall and Dewey from Class 2A will be joining the fray.
Both the Cardinals and the Longhorns are familiar with Cascia Hall and Dewey, having played both schools within the past decade. However, only Inola has experienced the Purple Pirates as a foe, playing them in district play during the 2000 and 2001 seasons.
In losing Berryhill to 3A-3, Verdigris won’t share a district with its current rival for the first time in more than a decade. Other moves out of the district include Vinita falling to Class 2A and Mannford swapping to 3A-1.
In District 2A-8, Sequoyah will see three new teams in Vinita, Class A powerhouse Pawhuska and Caney Valley. The Eagles are no strangers to Vinita, but they haven’t played Pawhuska since 1999, and their meeting with Caney Valley will be the first in school history.
Moving down to Class B, Foyil will be in an entirely new district, transferring to B-6 from B-8. The Panthers’ new acquaintances include Arkoma, Cave Springs, Gans, Keota and Welch.
Foyil battled Welch in nondistrict action as recently as 2019 and 2018, but it hasn’t faced Cave Springs since 2004 and has never played Arkoma, Gans or Keota.
Those were just the highlights for the upcoming district realignment. Here is an overview of the changes for every local school:
Owasso: Moves from District 1 to District 2
Keeps: Union, Edmond North, Mustang
Loses: Norman North, Southmoore, Moore, Putnam City
Adds: Edmond Memorial, Edmond Santa Fe, Norman, Yukon
Claremore, Collinsville & Pryor: District 4
Keeps: Nathan Hale
Loses: Glenpool, Sapulpa, Tahlequah, Memorial
Adds: Grove, Thomas Edison, Bishop Kelley, Will Rogers
Oologah & Catoosa: District 3
Keeps: Cleveland, Miami, Skiatook, Wagoner
Loses: Grove, Bristow
Adds: Cushing, McLain
Verdigris & Inola: District 4
Keeps: Jay, Central, Holland Hall
Loses: Berryhill, Mannford, Vinita
Adds: Bristow, Dewey, Cascia Hall
Lincoln Christian: District 3
Keeps: Locust Grove, Seminole, Checotah, Daniel Webster, Stigler
Loses: Westville, Sequoyah Tahlequah
Adds: Berryhill, Muldrow
Sequoyah & Rejoice Christian: District 8
Keeps: Adair, Nowata, Salina
Loses: Sperry, Kansas, Dewey
Adds: Caney Valley, Pawhuska, Vinita
Chelsea: Moves from District 6 to District 5
Keeps: Chouteau-Mazie, Hominy, Morrison, Pawnee, Woodland
Loses: Caney Valley
Adds: Oklahoma Union, Tonkawa
Foyil: Moves from District 8 to District 6
Loses: Davenport, Prue, Regent Prep, Depew, Drumright
Adds: Arkoma, Cave Springs, Gans, Keota, Welch