Texas high school football has added a new class of competition this fall as the biggest schools in the state will start playing in Class 6A.
'It's really no different,' said Cedar Hill head coach Joey McGuire, whose team is the 5A Division II defending state champion. 'The only real difference is in 4A, where they split.'
McGuire's team, the Cedar Hill Longhorns, are 6th in the USA TODAY high school preseason poll.
'Everybody is just bumped up,' said Fossil Ridge head coach Tony Baccarini.
Class 6A is defined as any school with an enrollment of 2,100 students and above. A total of 245 schools will move to this classification.
So what school will have the biggest impact? Allen High School which has won the 5A state championship the last two years is already being nationally regarded as the best team in Texas. USA TODAY's preseason poll has the Eagles ranked fourth in the nation, thanks to their continued success and the return of quarterback Kyler Murray for his senior season.
So who are the dark horses in Class 6A?
'Denton Guyer moving up [to Class 6A] will get noticed, since they moved from Class 4A to Class 6A,' McGuire said. 'They won the state championship in 4A Division I. Keller Fossil Ridge will be really good as well, since the coach's son will be on the team.'
'I hope he's right,' says Baccarini. 'We got some good guys returning, including four on defense, all of which had over 100 tackles each. They're a good nucleus.'
Baccarini's son, Bryce is a junior this year. 'He was the starting quarterback on junior varsity last year, and is fighting for the starting quarterback job with senior Gabe Monk, who was the backup quarterback last year,' Baccarini said.
Fossil Ridge should be strong on offense since they have eight starters returning on offense.
Baccarini's pick for a possible dark horse is Northwest High School near Justin.
Katy High School is 17th in the USA TODAY poll, and has played in the state title game two years in a row. They lost to Cedar Hill last year after beating Cedar Hill for the title one year earlier.
The key to survival in 6A for Highland Park will be the depth.
'The big schools will have more depth,' said Johnny Ringo, the athletic director for the Highland Park school district. 'A good example is Allen High School, which has nearly 3,900 students more than Highland Park, which is one of the smallest 6A schools with an enrollment of 2,106 students. That would be a big difference.'
Ringo also says he is expecting big things from Austin Westlake, because that's where Todd Dodge will start coaching this season. He won four 5A state titles in a seven-year span before leaving Southlake Carroll.
'Westlake has great athletic tradition that is unique and very similar to Southlake,' Ringo said. 'Lake Travis and Austin Westlake, that'll be a great match.'
DeSoto is 38th in the top 50 poll as one of four Texas schools in the USA TODAY high school preseason poll.