The University Interscholastic League always throws at least one curveball our area's way every two years.
Some biennial realignments seem uneventful before the judgment day arrives, but then all of a sudden jaws drop and plans are disheveled when Bowie is back in 3A or Graham finds itself in an unfamiliar and relentless district.
What will Thursday's UIL realignment hold for our area schools? It's impossible to know for sure, but here are some storylines to follow:
1) District 4 or 5 for Rider and WFHS — This matters because either the Raiders and Coyotes will face Panhandle and El Paso teams in the first two rounds of the 4A playoffs, or they will go to the Metroplex.
After spending two years heading west, it looks like the city's 4A schools should be back as 5-4A. El Paso teams will occupy the first two districts, and since Amarillo, Lubbock and Lubbock Monterey are expected to drop down, it looks like West Texas should fill out the next two districts.
Being in District 5-4A will mean tougher football opponents in the first two rounds. Volleyball and girls basketball probably won't complain, though, as those sports are dominated by West Texas powers.
2) Several Class A teams on division bubble — The magic number for splitting up Class A last realignment was 150.5.
Windthorst is assuredly jumping to Division I after the Trojans turned in 159. Quanah (155), Seymour (154) and especially Archer City (152) will be waiting anxiously Thursday to discover their fates.
I wouldn't mind seeing an all-area district of those four mentioned schools and Olney.
3) Number of teams in local 3A district — With Bowie most likely dropping, 6-3A would have five teams in its current format. The same five teams (Hirschi, Burkburnett, Iowa Park, Graham and Vernon) were linked together during the 2006-07 football seasons.
But the UIL could send Decatur and Bridgeport up this way like it did in 2008-09, especially if Graham is forced back to the Abilene area. That's not out of the realm of possibility.
Snyder and Sweetwater could get pulled into a district further west, which means the Wylie district might need one or two schools to complete it.
4) The Class 4A/3A cutoff — None of the area's Class 3A teams are in danger of moving to 4A, and neither Rider nor WFHS is close to dropping.
So why is this a big deal? Because Region I-3A might get a whole lot tougher in the next two years.
Stephenville reportedly turned in an enrollment of 999. Last year's 3A cutoff was 989, so even an innocent 10-student increase would turn the Yellow Jackets into one dominant 3A program. A Stephenville-Abilene Wylie-Brownwood grouping is pretty scary to think about.
5) Regional teams' movement — It is guaranteed Denton Ryan will move to 5A since its enrollment jumped to 2,124.
But Denton Guyer has a good chance of dropping back down with a snapshot number of 2,064 — one less than last realignment's 5A cutoff. It would make sense for the Wildcats to replace the Raiders in the local 4A district.
Stephenville will be right on the cusp, but nearby Springtown is definitely dropping to 3A. Krum, which has been in our local 2A basketball district, is moving on up.
Alvord has been at the 2A level the past couple of realignments, but it was in a Class A district with Windthorst not that long ago. The Bulldogs have turned in 204, which is five more than last realignment's A cutoff.
And those in Class A Division II who will be glad to see Windthorst gone shouldn't celebrate too much. That's because perennial power Albany is headed to Division II.