Region play began last week for the football teams as Mountain Pointe remains one of the favorites in a wide open East Valley and Desert Vista felt the power of the Fiesta with a loss at Hamilton.

It's just the first week so anything can happen over the next six weeks.

However the region races play out enjoy it because under next year's Arizona Interscholastic Association's guidelines regions dissipate.

Gone. Kaput. No more.

There will be a total of six divisions (down from seven) with the smallest one still set aside for eight-man football. Within those divisions there are three sectionals. The top three teams in each sectional make up nine of the 16 teams that make up the state bracket with at-large bids filling out the rest based on power points.

The intent behind eliminating the regions is great - reduce costs across the board for regular season and postseason when it comes to travel, paying for venues, etc. - but there should have been a way to keep regions intact.

Let's face it there are some schools in certain sports where a regional title is the only realistic goal to play for because they cannot compete at the state level.

Whether it be swimming where Phoenix Brophy and Phoenix Xavier have a stranglehold on state titles or Tucson Sunnyside in wrestling or Keams Canyon Hopi in small classification cross country getting to the state tournament is as far as other programs are going to go more often than not.

Look, there are no perfect scenarios, but cutting out all regions is disappointing. Maybe I'm just a traditionalist and used to having a league title up for grabs. And the new scenario has everyone playing as an independent.

Rewind to last last year's Mountain Pointe season finale against Tempe Marcos de Niza for the region championship.

It was intense and exciting.

Both programs were going to get a high seed in the Class 5A Division I state field regardless of the outcome, but those teams played down to the final minute, scratching and crawling for every yard, for the honor of calling themselves region champions not for power points.

I was on the field when the Pride was celebrating and they weren't yelling and hollering about decimal points. They were going nuts over the fact that Mountain Pointe had just won the East Valley title.

Starting next season that will be gone and replaced by a computer.

The scheduling for football will be done by a computer, based mostly on proximity, with each school able to contract two or three games to keep rivalries and/or competitive opponents (like the Chandler-Peoria Centennial home-and-home series) going.

The first set of sectionals, which can serve as a guideline, but shouldn't be taken as golden rule for every sport, have been released by the AIA. It comes in the form of the cross country sectionals that go in effect this season.

Mountain Pointe and Desert Vista have been placed in Sectional I away from East Valley schools and lumped in with Phoenix and Yuma programs.

Sectionals II and III of Division I have split up the East Valley schools seemingly as Highway 60 as a border. Above it and you are in Sectional II and those schools south of the 60 fall into Sectional III.

Everything will be unveiled in due time - wrestling is next on Oct. 19 for this season - and schools will have time to appeal. The announcement of final placement for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years will be on Jan. 19 with schedules for the fall coming out on Feb. 23.

It gives plenty of time to let it all sink in, but more importantly, time to cherish one final season with regional titles on the line.

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