On Monday 10/18/10, the AIA released its Initial Placement (IP) list, where they classify all the members schools by division for football.
We already knew that there would be 6 divisions for football – five 11-man and one 8-man. Initially, I had tried to create a projected realignment based on previous enrollment numbers, with the understanding that there would be some changes because some schools would see movement due to increased or decreased enrollments.
After reviewing the IP and comparing to my initial projections, I wasn’t far off. In my initial projections, I had Divisions 1-3 with 39 teams each, D4 with 38, and D5-6 with 35. The IP has D1 with 40, D2 with 39, D3 with 40, D4 with 36, D5 with 39, and D6 with 31. And remember, I’m only counting football schools, even though the IP encompassed more than that – like Xavier Girls Prep and Bowie High School, for example.
Some highlights – Tolleson, Boulder Creek, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Pinnacle are all D1 instead of my projected D2, while Casa Grande, Horizon, and Cesar Chavez slipped to D2 from a projected D1. Nogales, Sunrise Mountain, Copper Canyon, Yuma, Liberty, and Vista Grande dropped to D3 from a projected D2 – Liberty I knew that might happen, but I was trying to even out the sectionals so I bumped up Liberty to projected D2. Tempe, Douglas, Youngker, Coconino, and Flagstaff came in at D3 also, though I projected them at D4. North Pointe Prep and South Pointe also ended up at D4 instead of D5, but Sedona and Round Valley ended up dropping to D5. No real surprises in D6, though I had projected Tempe Prep, Tanque Verde, and Hayden to end up there.
Overall, out of 225 football schools, I nailed 190 schools (84.4%) – not bad considering I was working with data over two years old.
Now the other issue is to determine who’s going to appeal their placements. We know for sure that the following schools will appeal their placements: Salpointe Catholic (D4), St. Mary’s (D4), Notre Dame Prep (D4), and Seton Catholic (D4). I am projecting that the following schools will also appeal their placements: Round Valley (D5), Yuma (D3), and possibly Sabino (D4).
The AIA has specific rules for appealing placements (8.1.10), which include geography, number of athletic programs at the school, last four years of student enrollment (to determine if the enrollment is varying wildly), and competitive history over the last four years. (The AIA made it a point this year to note that teams are no longer allowed to appeal down a division, and driving time instead of mileage will be the main factor for geography.) In these cases, the AIA would be hard pressed NOT to grant the appeals of the first four, and the latter three would be petitioning based on travel times (RV, Yuma) and competitive history (Sabino). Lastly, and this is important, schools are being allowed to appeal placements on a sport-by-sport basis. That means, for example, that a school that appeals a football placement doesn’t have to factor into their appeal their basketball team too.
Some people on the forums have made specific comments regarding why certain teams should be moved up or down. Some of these comments are pretty thoughtful (“while total enrollment is a factor in a quality football program, it matters less than people think. Dobson is the 6th largest school in AZ … and would likely struggle if they played Fairfax”), others show a distinct lack of intelligence (“part of the reason [Salpointe] play[s] in the highest division is so they don’t have to play too many of the good Tucson teams and lose.”)
That said, here’s an updated look at the projected sectional alignments now that we know where teams will be placed in each division.
|Division 1||teams = 40||Division 2||teams = 39||Division 3||teams = 40||Division 4||teams = 36||Division 5||teams = 39||Division 6||teams = 31|
|Carl Hayden||2255||Cholla||1734||Williams Field||1382||Ganado||597||Hayden||125||Cibecue||75|
|Central||2301||Catalina Foothills||1736||Tempe||1443||Alchesay||608||Baboquivari||275||Rock Point||126|
|Desert Mountain||2352||Canyon del Oro||1746||Amphitheater||1323||Holbrook||689||Pusch Ridge||279||Ft. Thomas||132|
|Desert Ridge||2517||Flowing Wells||1775||Catalina||1382||Window Rock||728||San Manuel||350||Mogollon||150|
|Brophy||2532||Pueblo||1855||Higley||1441||Snowflake||739||Tanque Verde||355||Joseph City||154|
|Skyline||2649||Ironwood Ridge||1879||Campo Verde||1500||Show Low||777||Morenci||368||Duncan||161|
|Westwood||2923||Marana Mt. View||1964||Apache Junction||1614||Winslow||792||Benson||380||Pima||207|
|Highland||2957||Casa Grande||1965||Vista Grande||1655||Blue Ridge||876||Thatcher||400||Veritas Prep||228|
|Mesa||3334||Cienega||2048||Nogales||1704||Monument Valley||912||Bisbee||407||Shonto Prep (F)||142|
|Mesa Mt. View||3369||Rincon/University||2072||Queen Creek||1711||Chinle||1099||Willcox||422|
|Red Mountain||3442||Desert View||2119||Poston Butte||1725||San Carlos||433|
|West Valley||Northwest||Skyline||Western Canyon||Western Sky||South|
|Tolleson||2195||Cactus Shadows||1827||Cactus||1429||North Pointe Prep||490||Arizona Lutheran||187||Patagonia||73|
|Kofa||2263||La Joya||1860||Youngker||1434||Parker||530||Phoenix Christian||223||Rancho Solano Prep||80|
|Valley Vista||2286||Barry Goldwater||1879||Verrado||1454||South Pointe||586||Tempe Prep||232||Ajo||134|
|Mountain Ridge||2355||Marcos de Niza||1897||Desert Edge||1496||Wickenburg||720||Westwind Prep||257||St. David||143|
|Boulder Creek||2374||McClintock||1908||Shadow Ridge||1500||Chino Valley||812||Yuma Catholic||264||Gila Bend||148|
|North Canyon||2397||Deer Valley||1956||Sunrise Mountain||1611||River Valley||878||Canyon State Academy||304||Valley Union||154|
|Sandra Day O'Connor||2413||Ironwood||1989||Glendale||1639||Page||1012||Antelope||305||Gilbert Christian||155|
|Pinnacle||2438||Perry||2114||Yuma||1650||Estrella Foothills||1060||Valley Christian||329||San Pasqual Valley||155|
|Cibola||2515||Willow Canyon||2159||Agua Fria||1654||Cortez||1225||Tonopah Valley||370||Valley Lutheran||190|
|Maryvale||2581||Horizon||2160||Liberty||1660||Mingus||1260||Bourgade Catholic||406||ASDB (F)||52|
|San Luis||2616||Cesar Chavez||2169||Peoria||1682||Coronado||1295||Santa Cruz||439|
|Alhambra||2690||Millennium||2184||Copper Canyon||1708||San Tan Foothills||475|
|Trevor Browne||2808||Bradshaw Mountain||1731|
|Southeast||Desert West||East Sky||Desert Sky||Northeastern Sky||West|
|St. Mary's||602||Shadow Mountain||1749||Notre Dame Prep||919||Seton Catholic||542||Rough Rock||166||Fredonia||84|
|Salpointe Catholic||1150||Sunnyslope||1807||Saguaro||1437||Globe||555||Williams||237||Ash Fork||91|
|Buena||2222||Betty H. Fairfax||1814||Sierra Linda||1535||Fountain Hills||753||Red Mesa||320||Joy Christian||114|
|Basha||2320||Raymond S. Kellis||1843||Moon Valley||1548||Florence||833||Scottsdale Christian||342||Salome||135|
|Corona del Sol||2390||Prescott||1858||Mohave||1551||Coolidge||844||St. Johns||342||Bagdad||138|
|Mesquite||2452||Gila Ridge||1867||Thunderbird||1561||Empire||1042||Greyhills Academy||375||Beaver Dam||144|
|Mountain Pointe||2648||South Mountain||1873||Greenway||1600||Santa Rita||1115||Many Farms||409||Mayer||163|
|Desert Vista||2929||Independence||1937||Paradise Valley||1603||Combs||1140||Pinon||423||South Ridge||approx. 200|
|Tucson||3021||Camelback||1937||Maricopa||1612||Rio Rico||1236||Round Valley||445||PDSD (F)||59|
|Dobson||3081||Lake Havasu||1956||Flagstaff||1641||Sabino||1253||Camp Verde||446|
|Hamilton||3431||Chaparral||2127||Washington||1702||Sedona Red Rock||489|
Looking at this, I see a couple of things jump out at me –
D1 throws Salpointe and Sunnyside in with Desert Vista, Mountain Pointe, Basha, Chandler and Hamilton in the Southeast. Easily the toughest sectional in the state. The East Valley is a close second, with all the Mesa and Gilbert schools along with Brophy and Central. West Valley brings up the rear with Maryvale, Boulder Creek, O’Connor, Pinnacle, Mountain Ridge, and Westview grouped together.
[EDIT: After a good suggestion, I moved Kofa, Cibola, and San Luis to the West Valley, St. Mary’s, Mesquite, and Dobson to the Southeast, and North and Carl Hayden to the East Valley. While Carl Hayden is inconvenienced a little more, the travel time saved by the Yuma schools makes it the correct decision.]
Over in D2, you’ve got Millennium, Centennial, Marcos de Niza, Cactus Shadows, Horizon and Perry in the Northwest, and the Sonoran is an all-Tucson sectional + Casa Grande, who may turn around and appeal up if Buena and Sunnyside appeal down from D1. The Desert West groups Kellis, Apollo, Prescott, Lake Havasu, and Chaparral.
D3 was the biggest headache to try and group, and I’m still not satisfied with the outcome. On the one hand, the Kino sectional is pretty tough with Williams Field, Amphi, Apache Junction, Queen Creek and Poston Butte who is tearing up the competition in the Independent schedules this season. On the other hand, the East Sky is also no slouch with Notre Dame, Saguaro, Thunderbird, Greenway, Arcadia, and Washington. The poor Skyline sectional groups Liberty, Cactus, Bradshaw Mountain, Desert Edge and Peoria with a bunch of mediocre teams like Glendale, Dysart, and Agua Fria.
[EDIT: Again, noticing some disparity in travel times, I moved Vista Grande to Kino, Saguaro to East Sky, and Yuma to Skyline.]
The path to a D4 championship no longer goes through the Rim Country, it now goes through the South if Sabino stays in D4. Try navigating a gauntlet of Seton Catholic, Florence, Fountain Hills, Coolidge, Empire, Sabino, Santa Rita, and Palo Verde, and the latter two are not exactly easy outs by any stretch (even though both are having down years this year). The Rim schools at least get the Rez schools to beat up on, the South gets… Globe and Rio Rico. Ouch. Wickenburg in the West now has to contend with Mingus and Buckeye, in addition to the usual suspects of Chino Valley and Estrella Foothills and occasionally Parker.
[EDIT: Switched Seton Catholic with Cortez from Western Canyon to Desert Sky – Seton is farther south in Phoenix than Cortez, so that made way more sense, though I do expect Seton along with Rio Rico to appeal up to D3.]
D5 was easily no contest. Sedona Red Rock and Santa Cruz, dropping down from 3A/D4 to D5, will at least benefit from the change in competition. The Southeast will continue to have its hands full with Willcox, Bisbee, Thatcher, Miami, Pusch Ridge Christian, and Morenci leading the way. The Western Sky once again groups most of the private schools like Arizona Lutheran, Phoenix Christian, Yuma Catholic, Valley Christian, and Bourgade Catholic, along with Canyon State Academy and Tempe Prep. The Northeastern Sky will have some new faces as Scottsdale Christian gets to take on St. Johns, Williams, and Red Mesa. Round Valley, if it stays in D5, makes this a more competitive sectional than at first glance.
[EDIT: Checking travel times and finding Sedona-Yuma was an hour longer than Sedona-Red Mesa HS, I swapped Sedona and Northwest Christian.]
Finally, D6 really doesn’t have much new to it other than Pima and Ray come back to 8-man football, and D6 welcomes Gilbert Christian and Rancho Solano Prep to the South to face perennial powers St. David, Valley Union, and Valley Lutheran.