New sectional format brings opportunity - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Sports

New sectional format brings opportunity

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Posted: Monday, December 20, 2010 12:30 pm | Updated: 1:21 pm, Tue Dec 27, 2011.

Regardless of the varying opinions on the work done, or lack thereof, by the Arizona Interscholastic Association there is one thing no one can debate.

The AIA rarely stands pat.

At least when it comes to aligning divisions/regions/sections/classifications or whatever it is called these days. Well, actually what it is called today will be different next fall.

It is the one thing that has driven me crazy about Arizona, and I was slow to understand since moving here from Ohio.

Although there has been movement in recent years in the Buckeye State among high schools conferences, it is mostly a stable environment where leagues were made up of the same schools for years and years.

Here it changes every two years.

It's my own personal issue. I like routine. Change, not so much.

So the two-year block was just silliness in my mind. How could rivalries be any good if the conference changed before it had any roots?

Then I came to realize that it was necessary.

Arizona is a growing state and not established like Ohio. When I moved here in August of 2004 there were about 230 schools and now there are around 275. Not only that, certain school districts, in locations like Chandler and to a lesser extent Ahwatukee Foothills, have seen huge population growth.

Anyway, the AIA is at it again.

They are completely re-booting the current classification setup. Regions - Fiesta for Desert Vista and East Valley for Mountain Pointe - are gone. Divisions and sections are in its place.

The AIA recently released the initial sectionals that will dictate the regular season schedule in all of the team sports. Schools have until Jan. 6 to appeal their placement with the final placement announced on Jan. 18.

There may be a handful of appeals, but for the most part the selected sectionals, done so by a computer based on proximity and school enrollment, will stay intact.

Mountain Pointe and Desert Vista were placed in Division I, Section III. The other 11 schools in that section are Anthem Boulder Creek, Phoenix Brophy, Scottsdale Desert Mountain, Mesa, Mesa Mountain View, Glendale Mountain Ridge, Phoenix North Canyon, Phoenix Pinnacle, Mesa Red Mountain, Phoenix Sandra Day O'Connor and Mesa Westwood.

It is an interesting collection of football programs (basketball and baseball/softball are different with 21 and 20 total teams, respectively, in the D-I, Section II).

"After being in the Fiesta Region the last couple of years it is great for us," Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds said. "There are some great and challenging programs in there."

The schedules won't be calculated until after the sectionals have been finalized, but eight of the 10 football games (14 games among seven opponents for basketball, volleyball and baseball/softball) will come from the section selected by the computer.

Since the proximity is the first variable for the computer to take into account I'll go out on a limb and assume the Pride and Thunder will play each other every year.

It leaves two games for the schools to contact on their own. This is where it could get fun.

"Everyone is going to be trying to play the same teams," Mountain Pointe Athletic Director Ian Moses said. "You want to find a match that you know is going to do well and you can compete with."

Of course, I am not the one making these decisions or having to come up with the game plans to face the opposition. But why not shoot for the best. Power points are still going to be used so why not ensure there are a certain amount of points by going after the best.

Chandler Hamilton, Scottsdale Chaparral, Peoria Centennial are the best of the best and would be a great test. A notch below would be programs like Chandler, Avondale Westview, Tempe Marcos de Niza and Mesa Desert Ridge.

Desert Vista has shown the desire to schedule such games playing Centennial in recent seasons, plus playing Hamilton in region play. Mountain Pointe played Chandler Basha four times in the last six years in the regular season and Hamilton twice.

It seems to be what Hinds has in mind.

"It is the way it is around here," he said. "We've had some great teams on our schedule over the years. We will play anyone. It makes things more fun when you have a big game or two on the schedule."

Each school will do what is best for them and hope who they pick out also wants to schedule them.

My only words of advice: Don't stand pat.

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Jason P. Skoda
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