Bordow: PUHSD schools finally excited about football

Bordow: PUHSD schools finally excited about football

ALL-USA

Bordow: PUHSD schools finally excited about football

By

Scott Bordow

Scott Bordow

@media only screen and (min-device-width: 320px) and (max-device-width: 480px){div.desktop{display:none;}}
@media only screen and (min-device-width : 768px) and (max-device-width : 1024px) {div.desktop{display:none;}}

North High School football player Tommy Montero runs a route during practice at North High School. Enthusiasm for football is picking up at the central Phoenix high school.

North High School football player Tommy Montero runs a route during practice at North High School. Enthusiasm for football is picking up at the central Phoenix high school.

@media screen and (min-width:992px){div.mobile{display:none;}}
@media only screen and (min-device-width: 481px) and (max-device-width: 1024px){div.mobile{display:block !important;}}

The Phoenix South Mountain football team finished 0-10 last year. It scored just 63 points and gave up 579. Seven of its losses were by more than 50 points, and it was shut out six times.

That’s not a football season. It’s a torture chamber.

“It’s obviously not pleasant at all to go out there and lose like that,” coach Daryl Phillips said. “It’s tough to keep kids motivated.”

Phillips shouldn’t have that problem this season. Thanks to the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s re-classification process, South Mountain is where it should have been all along – in the same section and division as the other nine teams in the Phoenix Union High School District. For the first time in a long time, inner-city schools like South Mountain, Camelback and Central have something to look forward to rather than something to endure.

“There’s never going to be a team going in expecting to finish 0-10,” Phillips said. “I would be willing to bet there’s a not a coach in our division that thinks they can’t go at least 2-8 or 3-7. That may not seem like much but it makes a huge difference. It’s hard to build on just moral victories. At the end of the day, there has to be some sort of measuring stick that we can hang our hat on.”

The re-classification criteria that included enrollment, a program’s past success and the number of students eligible for the federally mandated free and reduced lunch program hasn’t been cheered in every corner of the state. Yuma Catholic coach Rhett Stallworth said it’s ridiculous that his school was moved up to Division IV after winning three of the last four Division V state championships.

His objection: Yuma Catholic, with 314 students, will be competing against schools like Lake Havasu, with an enrollment just above 1,900.

“There’s nothing fair about that,” Stallworth said. “In today’s world, though, it’s turned into everybody gets a trophy.”

ALL-USA Arizona preseason high school football team:

Please. This isn’t about ribbons, trophies or even giving more teams a shot at winning a state title. It’s about hope. If the re-classification process gives kids a better chance to simply win a football game on a Friday night, isn’t that a good thing?

Take the 10 PUHSD teams. Last year, their combined record was 21-79. Five schools – South Mountain, Central, Carl Hayden, North and Maryvale – either went winless or won just one game. This is how far some of the schools were in over their head: South Mountain’s schedule included heavyweights Goodyear Desert Edge, Scottsdale Saguaro, Williams Field and Queen Creek.

Bordow: Top 10 Arizona high school standouts in college football

This year, nine of South Mountain’s 10 games will be against other PUHSD schools. Think that’s a bit more reasonable?

They’ve yet to play a game but the 10 PUHSD programs already have benefited from the re-classification. North High coach Bernie Busken said the number of kids coming out has doubled from last year. South Mountain finished the 2014 season with 75 kids in its program. This year, about 120 kids have signed up to play, the most since Phillips became head coach in 2010.

Top high school football story lines: Zero Week

What has Phillips excited is the chance to renew meaningful rivalries that were extinguished when the PUHSD schools were scattered throughout different divisions and sections. One example: South Mountain and Camelback again will play for the Spartan-Rebel trophy.

“When we lost our natural rivalries, that did a terrible disservice to our schools,” Phillips said. “We lost a lot matchups that the kids would get excited about.”

Not only that, South Mountain would draw far more fans for a game against Cesar Chavez or Betty Fairfax than it would for a game against Saguaro. Now, with nine games against PUHSD schools, South Mountain is expecting a significant increase in gate revenue and concession sales. That can pay dividends in the long run, from purchasing new equipment to going to summer camps, etc.

“If we got a turnout every week like we have for Chavez or Fairfax, that can change a lot of things,” Phillips said.

Take our high school sports survey for a chance to win a $100 gift card

No one is expecting the PUHSD schools to win a state championship, although Chavez could be a contender in Division III. But no one is expecting a repeat performance of South Mountain’s 2014 season, either.

Instead, every PUHSD school will play every game with a simple but powerful thought:

We have a chance to win.

Reach Bordow at scott.bordow@arizonarepublic.com or 602-448-8716. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/sBordow.

Latest

More USA TODAY High School Sports
Home
https://usatodayhss.com/2015/bordow-puhsd-schools-finally-excited-about-football
Bordow: PUHSD schools finally excited about football
I found this story on USA TODAY High School Sports and wanted to share it with you: %link% For more high school stories, stats and videos, visit http://usatodayhss.com.