Arizona has 7 high school football conferences. Each conference is based on enrollment numbers, so that the schools are (relatively) similar in size. Every two years, the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) realigns schools so that their enrollments “match up”. Schools can petition to move up or down based on past history or travel times.
However, several years ago (2005), the number of schools began to get so big that the conferences decided to split the largest two into two “subdivisions”, in effect creating a 4A-I and a 4A-II conference and again with a 5A-I and 5A-II conference.
It sort of made sense at the time, in a weird convoluted way, but in recent years, as enrollments push past the 3100 mark, it no longer does. A new alignment needs to take place in the next two-year bloc to replace these 4A-I/II and 5A-I/II conferences.
Several people on multiple forums have attempted this same task, but for a myriad of reasons ranging from personal
bias preference to simply not knowing where the schools were located those attempts failed.
So, I went through the exercise of doing this, keeping in mind not only enrollment but also attempting to preserve region groupings by location wherever possible. There were some assumptions that had to be made on which schools would petition up or down, but some of those were relatively easy based on the schools’ past histories.
As of the 2009-2010 bloc, enrollments for each division were as follows:
4A-II: 1200–1799 students
4A has 68 schools as members – this is further broken down with the 4A-II division having 35 schools, and 4A-I having the other 33. 5A has 63 schools, with the 5A-II having 32 and 5A-I having 31.
Just by the straight numbers, the breakdown looks to be fairly equal. But it’s not. Look again – remember, -I and -II aren’t different conferences, they’re just divisions within the same conference. Notice that the 4A conference has an enrollment range of about 900 students, but the 5A conference has a range of over 1500 students! Even worse, the enrollment range breaks down like this:
4A-II: 1200–1799 = 599
4A-I: 1800-2099 = 299
5A-II: 2100-2399 = 299
5A-I: 2400-3600+ = 1200!!!
In any case, here’s the current view of the larger AIA conferences, with enrollment numbers. Schools that petitioned to be a part of the conference are noted with a + or – next to their number indicating they petitioned up or down. The 5A conference decided to have all teams compete together, so there are no distinct regions for 5A-II or 5A-I. Hence, 5A-II teams are noted with an * before the school name.
Current Conference Enrollments
|4A-II Black Canyon||4A-I Desert Sky||5A Fiesta||5A Metro|
|Cortez||1278||Cactus Shadows||1794||Chandler||3226||* Betty H. Fairfax||2000|
|Greenway||1548||Campo Verde||1500||Desert Vista||2920||* Camelback||1958 +|
|Paradise Valley||1578||Combs||1735||Hamilton||3345||* Carl Hayden||2277|
|Washington||1630||Poston Butte||1725||Red Mountain||3556||Maryvale||2637|
|4A-II East Sky||Saguaro||1476||5A Desert Valley||* South Mountain||2001|
|Arcadia||1590||4A-I Kino||* Chaparral||2037|
|Coronado||1317||* Desert Mountain||2339||5A Northwest|
|Maricopa||1473||Desert View||2090 -||North Canyon||2449||* Boulder Creek||2034|
|Notre Dame Prep||945 +||Marana||1877||* Pinnacle||2174||* Deer Valley||2253|
|Seton Catholic||547 +||Nogales||1821||St. Mary's||778 +||* Barry Goldwater||2039|
|Williams Field||1771||5A Desert West||Mountain Ridge||2492|
|4A-I Sonoran||* Sandra Day O'Connor||2125|
|4A-II Gila||* Centennial||2144||* Valley Vista||2338|
|CDO||1838||Cesar Chavez||2592||* Willow Canyon||2175|
|Amphitheater||1450||Catalina Foothills||1759||* Ironwood||2080|
|Catalina||1404||Flowing Wells||1825||* La Joya||2207||5A East Valley|
|Douglas||1346||Sabino||1374||* Tolleson||2238||Casa Grande||3320|
|Palo Verde||1484||Vista Grande||1800||* Westview||2317||Desert Ridge||2397|
|Rio Rico||1157 +||* Marcos de Niza||1965|
|Sahuarita||1412||4A-I West Valley||5A Central||Mountain Pointe||2446|
|Santa Rita||1291||* Perry||1891 +|
|4A-II Grand Canyon||Bradshaw Mtn||1747||Corona del Sol||2522||Westwood||2874|
|Mingus||1235||Raymond S. Kellis||1775||Mesa Mt. View||3225||Buena||2591|
|Mohave||1536||Sunrise Mountain||1786||Mesquite||3451||* Ironwood Ridge||1913 +|
|Page||1044 +||* Marana Mt. View||1964 +|
|Sinagua||966 +||4A-I Western Sky||5A Gila Valley||* Rincon/University||2116|
|Salpointe Catholic||1191 +|
|4A-II Skyline||Apollo||1804||* Cibola||2355||* Sunnyside||2264 +|
|Glendale||1680||* Gila Ridge||2025||Tucson||2974|
|Desert Edge||1549||Moon Valley||1688||* Lake Havasu||2060|
|Shadow Ridge||1500||Shadow Mountain||1854||* Yuma||2110|
What I attempted to do is realign the conferences by getting rid of the silly divisions within 4A and 5A and create “superconferences” for large enrollment schools. Also, I needed to be cognizant of the fact that the AIA does not allow more than 40 schools in a single conference – hence the divisional breakup in 4A and 5A – and also ensure that travel times were manageable.
Taking these facts into consideration, I was able to create new alignments – which on the surface seem to be similar as the old, but are more reasonably broken out by enrollment. Unless a team petitions up, no school in the 7A conference would be playing as a conference foe a team with less than 2500 students.
Suggested Conference Alignments
|4A Black Canyon||36||5A Desert Sky||36||6A Desert Valley||35||7A Fiesta||24|
|Cortez||1278||Cactus Shadows||1794||Desert Mountain||2339||Chandler||3226|
|Greenway||1548||Combs||1735||North Canyon||2449||Desert Vista||2920|
|Thunderbird||1620||Queen Creek||1700||Red Mountain||3556|
|Washington||1630||Perry||1891||6A Desert West||Westwood||2874|
|4A East Sky||Centennial||2144||7A Central|
|Arcadia||1590||La Joya||2207||Corona del Sol||2522|
|Coronado||1317||Desert View||2090 -||Tolleson||2238||Gilbert||3127|
|Maricopa||1473||Marana||1877||Mesa Mt. View||3225|
|Notre Dame Prep||945 +||Marana Mt. View||1964||6A Gila Valley||Mesquite||3451|
|Seton Catholic||547 +||Nogales||1821|
|4A Gila||5A Sonoran||Kofa||2513 -||Alhambra||2905|
|Lake Havasu||2060||Cesar Chavez||2592|
|Cholla||1645||Flowing Wells||1825||St. Mary's||778 +|
|Douglas||1346||Pueblo||1960||6A Metro||Trevor Browne||2902|
|Palo Verde||1484||Rincon/University||2116 -|
|Rio Rico||1157 +||Sabino||1374 +||Betty H. Fairfax||2000||7A Southern|
|Sahuarita||1412||Vista Grande||1800||Camelback||1958 +|
|Santa Rita||1291||Carl Hayden||2277||Buena||2591|
|5A West Valley||Central||2265||Casa Grande||3320|
|4A Grand Canyon||South Mountain||2001||Salpointe Catholic||1191 +|
|Coconino||1204||Bradshaw Mtn||1747||6A Northwest||Sunnyside||2264 +|
|Page||1044 +||Raymond S. Kellis||1775||Barry Goldwater||2039|
|Sinagua||966 +||Sunrise Mountain||1786||Kingman||1974|
|4A Skyline||5A Western Sky||Sandra Day O'Connor||2125|
|Peoria||1659||Independence||1866||6A East Valley|
|Shadow Ridge||1500||Moon Valley||1688|
|Verrado||1650||Shadow Mountain||1854||Desert Ridge||2397|
|Youngker||1347||Sunnyslope||1784||Marcos de Niza||1965|
Could it be better? Sure – I’ve toyed with the numbers a little bit and I could reasonably get conferences down to rounder numbers (like a 2000 minimum for 6A instead of 1965), but what I’ve mapped out is pretty kosher, plus it’s feasible for most schools’ travel budgets too.
This exercise took three days to complete, but I think it was worth the effort. 🙂
Do I think that the AIA will consider this? Normally, I would say no, but the scary thing is – it’s actually attainable AND reasonable. It’s not exclusionary, it actually does depend on several schools petitioning up or down (so it accounts for some small movement), and its sets itself up for growth in the “superconferences” of 6A and 7A as several schools still have yet to reach capacity.
Maybe in 2010, the AIA will come up with a similar alignment. If so, believe me, I’ll be pointing out it was seen here first, back in 2009. 🙂