Desert Vista’s football program entered this week, and proceeded through most of it, thinking it would be off last Friday night for its bye.
Then, Cactus came calling. The Cobras, one of the top teams in 4A who many entities have picked to either win the conference title or break into the Open Division this season, was suddenly in need of a contest after Coconino was forced into quarantine.
Desert Vista Athletic Director David Klecka said in a statement he was excited for the opportunity for a potential 11th game for his school’s team, but knew he needed approval from the AIA. That came faster than expected.
“At Desert Vista we strive to create opportunities for our student-athletes, which was the case Thursday evening when we received a call from Cactus High School requesting a contest between our two football programs,” Klecka’s statement read. “Excited about the opportunity, I immediately called Desert Vista Principal Michael Deignan and contacted the Arizona Interscholastic Association to be approved for an 11-game season.
“A short time later, AIA Executive Director David Hines said we were approved and that he would work on an officiating crew for the game. Within 15 minutes, I heard from Commissioner of Officials Brian Gessner.”
Hines, who was in attendance for Campo Verde’s Thursday night matchup against Cactus Shadows, said the officiating crew for the Cactus-Coconino game was available to head down the mountain to Ahwatukee to officiate the last-minute contest.
He reiterated those claims on Twitter.
“A crew was made available within 20 minutes of the request,” Hines replied to one user.
Klecka said he told head coach Ty Wisdom and the team about the possibility of a game taking place at Desert Vista. But on such short notice, he said there were too many logistical hurdles.
“We informed our team and went to work on the logistics of hosting the game Friday night, Klecka said. “However, it was too short of notice to put the right personnel in place to create a safe environment for both programs. The AIA worked diligently and in a swift manner to make this game happen, but it simply did not work on our end with our team on a bye week.”
Within minutes of announcing on Twitter the game was going to take place, the Desert Vista Football account retracted its statement, saying the sudden change was due to a “lack of officials.”
Hines replied to the tweet and said officials were available.
“That is not accurate,” Hines replied to the Desert Vista football account. “A crew was made available.”
Klecka issued an apology to Hines and the AIA Friday morning for the misunderstanding in what took place that resulted in the game not being played as originally thought. He also apologized to Cactus and head coach Joseph Ortiz, who were able to organize a contest Friday against West Point.
“I would like to apologize to the AIA for any negativity aimed at them because of this game not being played,” Klecka said. “I would also like to apologize to the Cactus football program and Coach Joseph Ortiz for the whirlwind of events that took place Thursday night. I wish you and your program the best tonight against West Point and throughout the rest of the season.”
Desert Vista will return to action Friday, Sept. 17 on the road at Mesa.
“As for Desert Vista, we look forward to our matchup against Mesa next Friday,” Klecka said.