Desert Mountain and Desert Ridge are among 10 schools scrambling to fill an open date on their schedules after Phoenix Carl Hayden announced it was canceling its football season.
Arizona Interscholastic Association executive director Harold Slemmer said that low turnout was the main factor in the decision by Carl Hayden, which plays in the 5A Metro Region.
"They were afraid that if they had some injuries, they wouldn’t be able to finish out the season," said Slemmer, who also noted that a 5A school canceling a football season was very rare. "Fortunately, they (canceled the season) early enough that there are no games that have been played."
"This is just a series of unfortunate events," Desert Ridge coach Vincent Smith said. "First, they have to cancel their season, then all of the other teams are left with a big hole in their schedules. There’s no easy way to resolve this."
Those schools affected can appeal to the AIA to play an early game to fill out their schedule. Also, AIA rules allow schools to play an extra game if that game helps fill out the schedule of another school. Slemmer said he expects to hear several appeals for an early game at the AIA executive board meeting on Friday.
"We’re working diligently to fill that hole," said Desert Mountain coach John Burke, whose team was to play Carl Hayden on Sept. 9. "We’ve been in contact with some other schools to see if we can work something out."
Burke said he is looking to play on Aug. 26, meaning his team would have one less week of practice and would have to cancel its scrimmage against Avondale La Joya on Aug. 25.
Desert Ridge, which was scheduled to play Carl Hayden on Sept. 16, is also looking to fill the date, but Smith said it does pose a dilemma.
"Is it worth it to go out there and play a game just to fill out the schedule?" Smith said. "We can’t afford to not have games, but we don’t want to play a game just for the sake of playing a game."