Schools have a week to appeal — and there will be lots of appeals — but here are some of my initial feelings to the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s conference placement of schools for the next two schools years (2016-18):
Remember, football ultimately gets the swing vote with all of the other sports having to follow along, so how football goes, so goes the rest of the sports as far as placement. (All sports go together into the same conference.)
This happening now undercuts the excitement teams are enjoying with three regular-season games to play. So while Laveen Cesar Chavez is enjoying a 6-1 season, thinking about making a splash in the Division III playoffs and pushing for that elusive first major-sports state championship in school history, now it has to wonder if it will win an appeal next week to move down from 6A Conference, where it has the 16th-largest enrollment in the state (2,693). That’s added pressure to winning now.
Paradise Valley, Goodyear Desert Edge and Lake Havasu better enjoy the good life now in football, because they all are placed in the second-biggest conference (5A) for the next two-year block, unless they all win appeals. Paradise Valley and Desert Edge look to be the favorites to meet for the Division III championship game. Lake Havasu is 7-0 in Division IV without much competition so far. Paradise Valley (1,794) and Desert Edge (1,785) have two of the three smallest enrollments in 5A Conference. Lake Havasu (1,864) is ninth smallest.
Please don’t let Mesa Skyline win an appeal to move down from 6A to 5A. Yes, Skyline was bad in football for a while, but coach Angelo Paffumi has built a great program, one that is only going to get better, in recent years. It should be playing in the top conference to renew the Mesa Desert Ridge rivalry. It is No.1 in Division II, but should be playing in Division I. They’re too good.
Scottsdale Chaparral and Peoria Centennial are two of the best football teams in the top level (see last week’s game as an example). But they won’t have to make any plea to the AIA board with both being back in the second-largest conference and battling for state championships for years to come. But what is more enticing? Winning the gold ball at the biggest level where the work is harder? Or the second-biggest where expectations are higher?
Scottsdale Saguaro will be back to rolling up championships in 4A, although it will be interesting to see if Tempe Marcos de Niza decides to stay there or appeal up to 5A.
You can already hear Tucson, Tucson Rincon and Tucson Sunnyside putting their appeals together to get out of 6A. Even though Tucson High has 3,200 students, it will likely get what it wants, for uniformity sake. You can’t have three Tucson teams in the largest conference and others on the outside. Unless, Salpointe Catholic, Oro Valley Ironwood Ridge and Marana Mountain View appeal up to 6A so they can all be in the same section.
I wonder if Phoenix St. Mary’s may just want to stay in 3A, but the boys basketball team has a great team in the making with 6-10 sophomore KJ Hymes. St. Mary’s still is a football program with too much pride and I still see it getting closer to Knights football some day given the right resources. Man, I miss the St. Mary’s-Brophy Prep rivalry from days of yore.
Reach Obert at email@example.com or 602-460-1710. Follow him at twitter.com/azc_obert, Listen to the Which Wich High School Football Preview Show every Friday from 6-7 p.m., on NBC Sports Radio AM 1060 with Dan Manucci and Richard Obert.