Prosper’s anticipated jump from 5A to 6A was confirmed on Thursday, Feb. 1. For the next three years, the Eagles will be a part of District 9-6A, which includes Allen, McKinney, McKinney Boyd, Plano, Plano East, Plano West and Dallas Jesuit. Among those, Prosper is the only school that participated in 5A in 2017-18.
“I think any district you put us in with 6A teams will affect our dominance in District play, especially in a district with teams of this caliber,” Prosper ISD Athletic Director Valerie Little said about the change. “However, we feel confident our teams will still be competitive in District 9-6A.”
The change marks a big jump for Prosper athletics. Prosper has been the biggest school by a wide margin as part of District 14-5A for the past three years with enrollment currently at 2,975 students. The Eagles will now be competing against Allen and all three Plano programs– those four schools are the biggest in Texas, each with more than 5,000 enrolled students.
“We have already competed against these schools in many of our sports,” Little added. “It is no surprise to us and we feel as prepared and ready as we can be.”
Overall, it will take time for Prosper to become a big threat in its new district. In the short term, each sports program will have a variety of challenges ahead.
Prosper football is coming off one of its best seasons in school history, winning the district championship and making it to the third round of the playoffs. Even with recent success, a move up to 6A is going to be tough early on.
With an especially talented senior class leaving the program, Prosper still has talent to build around, including quarterback Keegan Shoemaker. However, there are no easy games on its schedule. Prosper opens the season with non-district games against Garland NaamanForest, Keller Timber Creek and Flower Mound.
“We’re not looking to schedule any easy wins,” Prosper football head coach Brandon Schmidt said. “We want to schedule playoff teams and get our kids ready to compete at a high level.”
Allen will likely continue to dominate until the next UIL realignment in 2021 — Allen has won three state championships in the past six years.
Ultimately, there’s plenty of room for Prosper to improve into a playoff-caliber program. Schmidt has established a winning culture in two seasons as head coach, showing promise for the years to come.
“We’re going to keep doing what we do,” Schmidt said. “Our standards aren’t going to change. The goal for us is still to be competing for playoff spots and district championships.”
Expect Rick Carpenter’s squad to compete right out of the gate in year one of a 6A schedule. Carpenter is entering his 11th season as head coach at Prosper and has over 800 wins in his career.
Prosper should be able to compete with the best in year one of the realignment. The Eagles were ranked No. 1 in the 5A state rankings for most of 2016-17 and are ready to make the 6A jump.
Staci Jackson turned a small Prosper softball program around in her first year as head coach in 2017. Prosper finished third in District 14-5A, featuring a dominant Colony team that won the state championship.
Prosper softball will likely be a year or two away from competing among the best schools in its new 6A district. With a fast growing community and the stability of Jackson as head coach, Prosper should see growth in the win column every year.
The Prosper boys wrestling program has the clearest path to immediate success in 6A. The boys have dominated this season, earning a No. 1 state ranking with an undefeated record in duals and meets in 2017-18.
Unlike some other athletic programs at Prosper, the wrestlers have had the chance to compete against many 6A schools already, defeating multiple top-tier schools. Reaching top 5 in the state is an achievable goal for head coach Sion King and the boys wrestlers at Prosper in 2018-19. However, passing up Allen (No. 1 6A) and Arlington Martin (No. 2 6A) will be a challenge.
The girls program will likely struggle as part of 6A early. They’ve impressed as part of 5A under coach King — as the team continues to grow, success will come under the tutelage of coach King.
The Prosper boys and girls basketball teams have an exciting future ahead. Each squad has been ranked top 10 in the 5A state rankings all year. The boys have a chance at winning District 14-5A, and the girls recently clinched their first district title since 1989.
On the boys side, Prosper will have stiff competition and a young team. Point guard Josh Davis will be the team’s only returning starter and will lead the Eagles against top programs like Allen, Jesuit, McKinney and Plano West. Meanwhile, the success of the girls lies on the shoulders of top-20 nationwide recruit Jordyn Oliver, who will be entering her senior year.
The continuity in each team’s coaching staff should help Prosper hoops transition in 6A. Girls coach Trey Rachal and Jonathan Ellis have both been at Prosper five years or longer and have the ability to get the most out of their teams every year.
The 2017 Reigning 5A State Champions will have a much more difficult path to a repeat title in the upcoming fall season. Coach Erin Kauffman led her state-winning team to a 46-6 record and an undefeated run in a district that lacked competition, which will be the biggest change for the team next year. In a district filled with powerhouse teams like McKinney High and Allen, the Lady Eagles will have some work to do before they make an appearance in the postseason.
Kauffman, however, said she’s not stressing over the change.
“It won’t change a thing, especially because we’re in Region II,” she said. “We have the chance to go far in the playoffs, but the district will be much harder to get out of.”
The Lady Eagles will have a little bit of preparation for what the district has to offer since they played several big teams last year like Leander Rouse and new district opponent McKinney, but Kauffman said that the key to success will be the girls.
“I think that our girls have a lot of confidence going into next season, but we will approach district matches a little differently,” she said. “ We cannot take any nights off.”
Both the boys and girls have started their 2018 campaign on a high note. The two teams both saw time in the postseason last year and are looking to build on those successes.
Since 2006, boys soccer coach Ryan Rogers has been an integral part of getting Prosper soccer on the map. They are 2-0 in district play, winning both games by substantial amounts (5-0 against Little Elm, 4-0 against Newman Smith).
Despite the upgrade to 6A, Rogers said the team will be prepared for the new competition.
“We always try to train out players execute the best of their ability, regardless of the opponent,” he said. “We expect to compete and to be as successful as possible.”
But presumably the team’s biggest competition will come from the two-year reigning District 9-6A Champion Dallas Jesuit. The all-boys school will bring quite a punch to the Eagles; however Rogers is still confident in his team.
“We have been very successful over the past few years, and our players feel confident that if they work together and stick together, they can continue that success,” he said.
For the girls, it has been a different, but successful year thus far. After losing a lot of offensive firepower from last year’s team, head coach Rafael Flores is still finding a way to put goals in the back of the net. Also boasting a 2-0 record in district (10-0-2), they’ve had little trouble staying in the win column.
But similar to the boys, they too will have to adjust to the competition. The Lady Eagles will have to get past bigger teams like Allen and McKinney, competition that they’re not used to in District 14-5A. The only relief is having a bi-week since Jesuit is an all-boys academy.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Flores said. “I think the playoffs will be a little more favorable than what we’re in now… but you have to get out of the district.”
There was a lot on the line for the Mighty Eagle Band in 2017 since it was a year that the band was eligible to advance to the state marching contest. Conference 1A/3A/5A bands only get the chance to advance to the state marching contest every other year. Prosper fell just two placements short of advancing in 2015, so this year, they were hungry for redemption.
Prosper High School director of bands John Alstrin knew the move to 6A was imminent and that this could potentially be the last time they compete in conference 5A, so he wanted to push the limits and break barriers for the 2017-18 school year.
Spoiler alert: they did.
The Mighty Eagle band turned a lot of heads when they had numerous successes that landed them at the UIL State Marching Contest for the first time in school history. Over 250 5A bands from the state of Texas competed for a chance to make it to the state contest, but only 35, including Prosper, made the cut. Prosper advanced to the semi-finals, placing in the top ten (out of 37) and finished 7th in the finals round.
Shortly after, they traveled to Indianapolis, IN, to participate in the Bands of America Grand Nationals where they competed against the best bands in the nation. The preliminary round consisted of 100 bands and the Mighty Eagle Band made it to semifinals, which consisted of 37 bands.
The move up to 6A will work in the favor of the Mighty Eagle band, allowing them to, once again, make a run for the state marching competition in fall 2018, but it will not be easy.
Although the move to 6A brings new challenges to Prosper, Little remains optimistic heading into the year. It is not the first time the school has moved into a more difficult district, but the changes mean new opportunities to the school.
“Being in 6A is a big deal for Prosper ISD,” she said. “In 2008, we won the State football title in 3A, and here we are ten short years later in the highest classification with the largest schools in the state of Texas. That growth means possibilities which are very exciting from PISD as a whole.”
The move will officially begin in the fall of 2018.
“We are looking forward to competing with the biggest and best — that’s who we want to be,” Little said.