The new sections for team sports were released on Tuesday, and naturally, eyes gravitated to Division I football.
Twenty-nine teams have been divided into five sections and they look like this:
Section I: Basha, Chandler, Gilbert, Hamilton, Highland, Perry
Section II: Laveen Cesar Chavez, Phoenix Maryvale, Goodyear Millennium, Surprise Valley Vista, Avondale Westview
Section III: Desert Mountain, Desert Ridge, Mesa, Mountain View, Red Mountain, Skyline
Section IV: Brophy, Corona del Sol, Desert Vista, Dobson, Mountain Pointe, Phoenix North
Section V: Anthem Boulder Creek, Horizon, Glendale Mountain Ridge, Phoenix North Canyon, Pinnacle, Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor
Is this perfect? No. Sections I, III and IV have the state’s most powerful programs, each with three teams that could win II or V.
But with dozens of different agendas, will there ever be a consensus on these things? No. It’s impossible to draw up a perfectly competitive landscape with geographical realities. Instead, it’s more important to disperse the top teams into multiple sections, and that has been accomplished.
Here’s the most important part: Playoff-caliber teams like Basha, Chandler, Desert Vista, Desert Mountain, Brophy, etc., could very well lose two section games next year. However, with the larger availability of freedom games, the schools now have a chance to try and schedule as they see fit. If a program believes its section schedule is tough enough, it can attempt to ramp down the non-section games and pad the record. If it needs more competition, it can go the other way.
While some teams have been dealt a tougher hand than others, this setup is not going to force any deserving teams out of the playoffs next season.
This seems to be another successful endeavor by the Arizona Interscholastic Association, and it brings us to a larger point: the AIA has done a very good job lately of listening to the schools and using sound judgment. A few examples:
•Too many computer-scheduled matchups brought problems, and now there are more freedom games.
•Schools wanted smaller sections so they could play everyone and determine a section champion, and that will happen.
•The ability to appeal down a division was brought to the table, and now Tucson, Yuma and Phoenix schools have found more logical landing points.
•The idea of dropping the Division I football tournament from 16 to 12 teams seems to be squashed, with the football coaches recommending sticking with the status quo of 16 playoff teams in each division.
•Maybe the most encouraging news? The AIA has invited football coaches to talk with representatives from Maxpreps to better understand the power point system. It’s long been a sticking point, and while the rankings did work out well in the fall, the worry about not rewarding teams for playing up a division is a legitimate one.
With so many different parties looking out for their own self-interest, the relationship between the AIA and its member schools will always be somewhat on edge, but the communication recently has been better.
Could there be another issue that pops up soon? Of course. The 50-mile transfer rule proposal may be written up next month, and opinions will be split on the best course of action for that divisive proposal.
But as long as the AIA continues to solicit feedback and listen to its member schools, a truce can develop.