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GRIDIRON ARIZONA

Your Source for 6A & 5A High School Football Scores, Schedules, and Power Points

Realignment 2018: Final Placements

Verrado to defend a new-look Desert West Region

REALIGNMENT BLOG:  11/18/17

It's realignment time once again!  Earlier this week, the final Executive Board appeals were heard and we now know for sure where the teams will be competing in the next two-year cycle (2018 and 2019 seasons).

One thing to remember about realignment is that everyone isn't going to like it, no matter how the pie gets divided up. 

Compared to other realignments that I've seen over the past decade, this one was largely unchanged.  For starters, enrollment is the sole factor once again.  Also, despite the pleas of many (including myself), it's an "all-or-nothing" format once again.  That means the regions listed below are for all sports.  Football was not treated separately.  With the exception of one, all regions return along with the names.  There is talk of a football-only realignment, but that didn't surface until we were too far into the new cycle, so that will likely occur in the 2020 season (stay tuned).

One major change for the coming seasons is the elimination of the automatic bid for region winners in 6A (only).  That means the winners of those regions will be able to hang a banner in the gym, but if they want to make the postseason, they need to finish among the top 16 in the final AIA power points.  This year, both Westview and Cibola finished below the 16-mark.  Personally, I don't like this rule.  I understand it for the Southern Region, which only includes the two largest Yuma schools, but Westview showed in the first round that it belonged.  If a team is in a weak region, they will not only have to schedule accordingly for the next two years, but win a couple of those games.  Hurting Westview this year was Basha and Brophy being unusually down in 2017 (the Knights did lose to both schools by a combined eight points).

The current 6A numbers show the total teams dropping from 40 to 37.  The 5A total remains steady at 43, but there is a new mix of schools to get us to that number.  So, the current total number of combined 6A and 5A schools is 80. 

Schools that wanted to appeal their placements had until Oct. 24 to do so.  Appeals were heard by the conference committees over the following week and these placements were updated on Nov. 1.  A final chance to appeal, in front of the Executive Board this time, took place Nov. 13.  Now that those have been held, we're set.  Although enrollment was the sole factor again, efforts were made to have each of the regions be competitive.

So, here's a look at what the final regions are:
 

6A REGIONS for 2018 & 2019
  Central Desert Valley East Valley
  Corona del Sol  Boulder Creek  Dobson
  Desert Ridge  Chaparral  Mesa
  Desert Vista  Liberty  Mesa Mountain View
  Highland  Mountain Ridge  Red Mountain
  Mountain Pointe  O'Connor  Skyline
  Queen Creek  Pinnacle  Tucson
       Westwood
 
  Metro Premier Southern Southwest
  Alhambra  Basha  Cibola  Copper Canyon
  Cesar Chavez  Brophy  Kofa  La Joya
  Maryvale  Chandler    Shadow Ridge
  North  Hamilton    Tolleson
  Trevor Browne  Perry    Valley Vista
         Westview

Breaking down the regions, Queen Creek moves up to 6A for the first time.  The Bulldogs replace Gilbert in the Central, which was arguably the best region from top to bottom this season.  With the addition of QCHS (a quarterfinalist in 5A this year), it will be strong once again.  Queen Creek appealed to the conference committee to move back down to 5A, but was denied.  The Bulldogs then attempted to move from the Central to the East Valley, but was unsuccessful there too.  QCHS considered appealing to the Executive Board, but withdrew its request and will stay put in the Central.  The Desert Valley substitutes out Desert Mountain and Horizon for Chaparral and Liberty.  Both the Firebirds and Lions were in Division I during the 17-team season of 2015.  Both won first-round playoff games in 5A this season, with Liberty doing so on its home field and then advancing to the semifinals.  Tucson is listed in the East Valley, and the Badgers didn't try to appeal out of it.  Both Sunnyside and Rincon have been moved down to 5A leaving TMHS as the only Southern Arizona school in 6A.  The Metro Region has Central moving down to 5A and that's the only change from this year's version.  Camelback and Carl Hayden were initially placed here, but won appeals to move back down to the 5A Union.  The Premier Region is the only one to remain fully intact.  Once again, Brophy will battle with the Chandler District schools.  With the departure of the three Tucson-area schools from the Southern Region, it leaves only Cibola and Kofa.  With the new rule of region winners not getting automatic bids, it pretty much makes the Raiders and Kings independents.  They will be free to choose their entire schedule, although it may be difficult to find opponents in Weeks 6 through 10 as everyone else will be in region play.  However, three of the 6A regions have an odd number of schools.  The other two Yuma public schools, Gila Ridge and Yuma, were placed in 4A (in a region with other schools).  The district chose to leave the schools where they were placed and did not appeal.  Finally, the Southwest has just one change replacing Millennium with Shadow Ridge.  That gives the region two Surprise schools with the Stallions joining Valley Vista.

Current Numbers:
7 teams moving down to 5A:  Gilbert, Desert Mountain, Horizon, Central, Rincon, Sunnyside, and Millennium.
4 teams moving up to 6A:  Queen Creek, Chaparral, Liberty, and Shadow Ridge.
Total schools:  37

 

5A REGIONS for 2016 & 2017
  Desert West Northeast Valley Northwest San Tan
  Agua Fria  Cactus Shadows  Apollo  Campo Verde
  Goldwater  Desert Mountain  Centennial  Casteel
  Independence  Horizon  Ironwood  Gilbert
  Millennium  McClintock  Kellis  Higley
  Verrado  North Canyon  Sunnyslope  Maricopa
  Willow Canyon  Notre Dame  Sunrise Mountain  Williams Field
     Paradise Valley    
  5A REGIONS for 2016 & 2017
  Sonoran Southern Union
  Cholla  Buena  Camelback
  Desert View  Cienega  Carl Hayden
  Empire  Ironwood Ridge  Central
  Flowing Wells  Marana  Fairfax
  Marana Mountain View  Nogales  Sierra Linda
  Rincon  Sunnyside  South Mountain

Breaking down the regions, three new schools join Agua Fria, Goldwater, and Verrado in the Desert West Region.  Independence slides over from the Union while Willow Canyon moves over from the Northwest and Millennium comes down from 6A.  Agua Fria (4A) and Independence (5A Union) both appealed (to those conferences in parenthesis), but were unsuccessful.  Glendale was initially placed in the Desert West, but won an appeal with the Executive Board to drop down to 4A.  The Northeast Valley climbs by two teams to seven.  Desert Mountain and Horizon drop down from the 6A Desert Valley while Cactus Shadows comes up from 4A and McClintock is shuffled from the Metro.  Appeals filed by North Canyon (to the 5A Union), McClintock (5A Union), and Paradise Valley (4A) were not granted.  Oh, about the 5A Metro, McClintock's current home, it's no longer in existence.  However, there is a reunion of sorts in the Northwest Region as four of the Metro schools are there along with Centennial and 5A newcomer Sunrise Mountain (from 4A).  The Mustangs last played in 5A from 2003-08.  Kellis tried to flee to the Desert West, but lost its appeal.  The San Tan Region grows to six with the addition of Casteel (from 3A) and Higley.  Gilbert comes down from 6A.  The other Metro school from this year, Maricopa, rounds out the grouping.  Tempe was initally placed in the San Tan, but won an appeal to return to 4A.  Maricopa tried to get into a different region, but was not awarded that option.  In the Sonoran Region, Empire moves up from 3A with its enrollment now at 1,868.  The Ravens along with Rincon (down from 6A) join holdovers Cholla, Desert View, and Flowing Wells.  Empire lost an appeal to go to 4A.  Marana and Mountain View have flip-flopped regions with MVHS in the Sonoran, which has been won by Marana the past two seasons.  Speaking of Marana, the Tigers are in the Southern Region (the toughest in all of 5A this year) with Buena, Cienega, Ironwood Ridge, Nogales (up from 4A), and Sunnyside (down from 6A).  Finally, there are now six teams listed in the Union Region.  It was initially at three schools, but Carl Hayden and Camelback won appeals to return to the Union (were placed in 6A) and Fairfax (placed in 4A) was the only school to petition up.  The Stampede's request was granted, and they will compete in a region with four other PUHSD schools.  Sierra Linda won't have to worry about playing Centennial, as it was placed in the Union.  The Bulldogs are currently on a 24-game losing streak and scored just six points all season.  Central moves down from 6A.

Current Numbers:
6 teams moving up from 3A/4A:  Cactus Shadows, Sunrise Mountain, Casteel, Higley, Empire, and Nogales.
Total schools:  43

Let's see who is no longer here.

Moving down from 5A to 4A (9 schools):  Deer Valley, Desert Edge, Glendale, Lake Havasu, Arcadia, Mesquite, Vista Grande, Poston Butte, and Sahuaro.  Interesting in that Desert Edge (7-4 this season) is dropping, but according to enrollment numbers (1,747), it's smaller than the public schools in 5A. 

Just like this year, teams within the regions will play one another in the second half of the season.  Region champions will be determined by win-loss record solely within their regions.  Tiebreakers will be decided first by head-to-head outcome, then record in games against their conference, then by overall record (assuming that it mirrors this year's). 

Conferences will meet between Dec. 18 to Jan. 12 to work on the creation of schedules for the two-year block.  It appears that region schedules will be finished that month, and more meetings can take place to select the non-region opponents.  It's possible that most of the slates will be completed by the end of January.  Some freedom games may still be worked on after that month, but hopefully, we'll have everything finalized here on the web site by the start of spring ball in late April.

As has happened since 1977, 16 teams will still qualify for the state football tournament for each conference with region champions getting automatic bids (except in 6A).  In 5A, the seven region winners will earn state playoff berths, with the other nine going to the highest power point totals.

PHOTO CAPTION:  The Verrado Vipers prepare to take the field for the second half in their playoff game earlier this month.  The school in Buckeye opened in 2006 with freshmen and played its first varsity season in 2008 (as an independent).  As its name suggests, it is in the Verrado community and is part of the Agua Fria Union High School District.  The Vipers have reached the playoffs four times, which have occurred in the past four seasons.  Verrado began in Class 4A-II in 2009, played in Division III from 2011-15, and moved up to its current spot in Division II in 2016.  VHS was once again placed in the Desert West Region with Agua Fria and Goldwater.  New teams joining them for the '18 and '19 seasons are Independence, Millennium, and Willow Canyon.  The Vipers will play all five of their region opponents in the second half of the year.  The other five games for VHS will be freedom games.  Schedules will be created for 2018 and then the sites reversed for the '19 season.