football Edit

Realignment 2020: Initial Conference Placements

Fresh off 5A Conference Championship, Williams Field making move to 6A

REALIGNMENT BLOG: 12/11/19

With the season just recently concluded, it's realignment time once again! On Wednesday, the football reclassification committee of the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) came out with the initial conference placements for the 2020 season.

The biggest change for the next go around is enrollment was completely thrown out. For the past four seasons, that was the only factor used when placing teams.

Another significant change is football is being treated differently than other sports. In the current season, all of a team's athletic program are at the same level.

The model that was used looked at a team's success on the field over the past three seasons. The MaxPreps power ratings were used and it was broken down as 50 percent from the 2019 season, 35 percent from 2018, and 15 percent from 2017.

In each conference anywhere from two to five teams were moved up or down. The maximum that a school could shift from its current position was just one conference.

Still to come is finding out if this will be a two-year or a one-year block. That still needs to be voted on by the conferences.

One disappointing thing was the topic was not brought up about awarding teams that win regions automatic berths into the postseason (in 5A and 6A). South Mountain won the 5A Metro Region in 2019, but didn't finish among the top 16 in 5A.

Still to be discussed is the future of the Open Division, if it will continue, and if 4A schools will be included again.

It is possible that regions could be combined with 6A and 5A teams. This has been done before, most recently in 2010. Combining 6A and 5A teams into one region allows for cross-scheduling (a problem with the existing formula), and can alleviate travel concerns.

In all, 14 schools were moved up and 12 schools were moved down. Teams have until Dec. 19 to appeal their placement. The football conferences will be finalized at the AIA Executive Board meeting on Jan. 21. Then, regions will be worked on with the intent to have regions completed on Jan. 28.

Open Division teams from this year, Saguaro (4A), Salpointe (4A), and Centennial (5A) are all moving up one conference. Also, the runner-up in the 4A Conference championship, Desert Edge will be heading to 5A, where it played in the 2016 and '17 seasons. The champion in the 5A Conference, Williams Field, will be playing in 6A for the first time.

The current 6A numbers show the total number of teams climbing from 37 to 39. The 5A total nudges up one from 43 to 44. Two schools playing their first varsity seasons in 2020, Canyon View (Waddell) and West Point (Avondale), were placed in 5A due to enrollment. Canyon View opened last year with freshman only and West Point began classes and sports this year.

So, here's a look at what the 6A and 5A conferences would look like (pending appeals):

6A and 5A Conference teams for 2020
6A Conference 5A Conference

Basha

Agua Fria

Boulder Creek

Alhambra

Brophy

Apollo

Casteel

Buena

Centennial

Cactus Shadows

Cesar Chavez

Camelback

Chandler

Campo Verde

Chaparral

Canyon View

Cibola

Central

Copper Canyon

Cholla

Corona del Sol

Cienega

Desert Ridge

Desert Edge

Desert Vista

Desert Mountain

Dobson

Desert View

Hamilton

Empire

Highland

Fairfax

Higley

Flowing Wells

La Joya

Gilbert

Liberty

Goldwater

Mesa

Horizon

Mountain Pointe

Independence

Mountain Ridge

Ironwood

Mountain View (Mesa)

Ironwood Ridge

North

Kellis

Notre Dame

Kofa

O'Connor

Marana

Perry

Maricopa

Pinnacle

Maryvale

Queen Creek

McClintock

Red Mountain

Millennium

Shadow Ridge

Mountain View (Marana)

Skyline

Nogales

Tolleson

North Canyon

Trevor Browne

Paradise Valley

Tucson

Rincon

Valley Vista

Saguaro

Westview

Salpointe

Westwood

South Mountain

Williams Field

Sunnyside

Sunnyslope

Sunrise Mountain

Verrado

West Point

Willow Canyon

Desert Edge offensive tackle Max Garcia on the field during the 4A Conference championship last week.  The Scorpions have been moved up to 5A and will likely be in a region containing Desert West teams like Millennium and Verrado.
Desert Edge offensive tackle Max Garcia on the field during the 4A Conference championship last week. The Scorpions have been moved up to 5A and will likely be in a region containing Desert West teams like Millennium and Verrado.

Breaking Down the Movement

Moving UP from 5A to 6A: Casteel, Centennial, Higley, Notre Dame, Williams Field

Moving DOWN from 6A to 5A: Alhambra, Kofa, Maryvale

Moving UP from 4A to 5A: Desert Edge, Saguaro, Salpointe

NEW schools joining 5A: Canyon View, West Point

Moving DOWN from 5A to 4A: Carl Hayden, Sierra Linda

Moving UP from 3A to 4A: ALA-Queen Creek, Benjamin Franklin, Northwest Christian

Moving DOWN from 4A to 3A: Cortez, Dysart

Moving UP from 2A to 3A: Phoenix Christian, Round Valley, Thatcher

Moving DOWN from 3A to 2A: Catalina, Coronado, Holbrook, Tanque Verde, Tuba City

UPDATE (12/19/19): Three schools in 6A will be appealing their placements. North, Notre Dame, and Trevor Browne are all seeking to move down to 5A. Three schools in 5A will be appealing their placements. Empire is wanting to move down to 3A while Goldwater and West Point would like to compete in 4A. These appeals will all be heard at the AIA Executive Board meeting on Jan. 21.