Arizona looking to toughen prior-contact rule, reclassify just for football

Nate Fain, Arizona Republic

Arizona looking to toughen prior-contact rule, reclassify just for football

Football

Arizona looking to toughen prior-contact rule, reclassify just for football

Watch out, Arizona high school sports.

The Arizona Interscholastic Association is about to gain some teeth.

During Monday’s monthly Executive Board meeting, the AIA is looking at toughening the prior-contact rule and using the success model to reclassify just for football.

There could even be another conference added.

But it’s all in the talking stages, and AIA Assistant Executive Director Joe Paddock said the football changes won’t happen until the next two-year block, which begins in the summer of 2020.

All of those state championships that Scottsdale Saguaro (4A) and Peoria Centennial (5A) have been racking up may have to come in conferences higher, based on their success.

“If possible, we’ll have football aligned by itself,” Paddock said. “I think we’re getting it narrowed down. The committee will meet again in the first Friday of December. We’re planning on meeting and making recommendations to take out to the conferences. That would go through the Legislative Council. We want to make sure we’re vetting it out and getting good input.”

The last time the AIA tried this it appeared rushed, and ended up being tabled halfway through the 2015 season with the organization going back to placing football teams in conferences based on school population numbers. That “Super” division produced only 17 teams with a 1-9 team making the playoffs, because schools were able to petition back down.

Since moving back to enrollment numbers, football has created a bigger gap between the elite and good teams with Chandler (6A), Centennial and Saguaro dominating. Saguaro is looking for a sixth state title in a row in 4A on Nov. 30 in Tucson against Tucson Salpointe Catholic. Chandler is looking for its third straight state title and fourth in five years on Dec. 1 against Gilbert Perry.

Centennial is looking to go back-to-back in 5A against Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep. Centennial won the 2015, 17-team, “Super” division title, before going back down to 5A, based on enrollment numbers.

“What we’re looking at is identifying schools that have been extremely strong in their conference with the possibility of moving up one conference,” Paddock said. “And, at the same time, looking at those that are struggling and moving them down.”

Looking at making prior-contact rule tougher

With Chandler senior cornerback David Eppinger and Saguaro senior receiver Marqui Johnson obtaining court orders the second half of the season in order to play, the AIA is looking at making the prior-contact rule tougher.

Read the rest of the story in the Arizona Republic

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