Would an 'Open Division' level the playing field in Arizona high school sports?

Photo: Dave Wallace, Arizona Republic

Would an 'Open Division' level the playing field in Arizona high school sports?

Football

Would an 'Open Division' level the playing field in Arizona high school sports?

Not everybody will be on board with this, but with so many routs, so many teams loading up with annual transfers, staying on top of the state in their sports, the Arizona Interscholastic Association should at least explore the possibility of adding an Open Division.

At least look at it for football and boys and girls basketball, where it’s gotten so predictable every year who is going to win before the first practice.

A few years ago, the AIA became cutting edge when it had a criteria to group teams into conferences. That included the teams’ success rate and free- and reduced-lunch population.

It produced the Super Conference, Division I, in football that few wanted to be a part of. But that was a great platform to show that Peoria Centennial, a dominant team in the second-highest conference for years, could prove it could win the state football title at the highest level.

That got scrapped quickly.

But the Super Conference provided one of the best sports story lines: Centennial’s magical ride through the Southeast Valley to win the title.

Scottsdale Saguaro showed it could cut away from the third-largest conference for a year and still win at the second-largest.

Since the AIA two years ago went back to placing schools in conference based solely on enrollment figures, the debate has raged on.

Chandler has rolled in 6A football. Saguaro has made a mockery of 4A football. Centennial went back to capturing the 5A title after finishing runnerup to Gilbert Williams Field the previous year.

There is little intrigue heading into this football season.

Chandler (6A), Centennial (5A) and Saguaro (4A) — schools that all added to its already loaded arsenal with transfers — are expected to hold up gold footballs at the end of the year.

Phoenix Shadow Mountain’s boys basketball team should roll to another 4A title. And Chandler Seton Catholic’s girls basketball team has proven it has no peers in 4A.

If the AIA doesn’t go back to looking at each school, sport to sport, and placing them based on success, an Open Division, which began in California in 2013, it would spice up the post-season.

Read the rest of the story in the Arizona Republic

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