After seeing initial changes to the Conference 2A Central Region, in which Sedona Red Rock High School and Camp Verde High School compete, there was a drastic remodeling following the appeals process.
Balancing the equity in travel demands from schools within the metro Phoenix area and the rural schools was the main reason for the makeover.
“Obviously the Phoenix schools have opportunities for less travel with the number of schools in the area,” said Duane Ediger, the Conference 2A chairman and athletic director at Scottsdale Preparatory Academy. “It’s not fair for a school or group of schools to not travel and others do a considerable amount.”
Following the original realignments, schools appealed to the Arizona Interscholastic Association earlier this month. After the finalizations, made at the AIA Conference 2A meeting the first week of November, the region went from six to seven teams.
Originally, just one new school was to enter and one to exit.
But after the changes, now set in stone, there are three new schools and two exits. One of those leaving is Joy Christian School, the one original newcomer.
Also leaving is Paradise Honors High School, which is going up to Conference 3A, while Glendale Preparatory Academy, already a Central Region member, was set to leave but appealed back in. On the girls side only, Mingus Mountain Academy went down to 1A.
Joining the remaining schools, Camp Verde, Red Rock and Northland Preparatory Academy, are: Valley Lutheran High School, Northe Pointe Preparatory and Scottsdale Prep.
The original Central Region teams, according to Ediger, welcomed Glendale Prep’s re-inclusion.
“They had a desire to see Glendale stay in the region,” Ediger said. “Talking with Mark Showers [Camp Verde High School Athletic Director and 2A representative on the AIA Executive Board], the schools with Glendale already had a desire that they stay. They enjoyed the competition.”
There will be seven regions in 2A. Two have six and eight teams each while three have seven teams each. Currently there are a total of eight regions; three with seven teams and five with six teams.
How many teams should belong in each region was a big question to answer, Ediger said. Some athletic directors believed that the right amount was four to five, and others believed eight to 10 was correct. Having six to eight was the compromise.
“You get to play a variety of schools [with the new structure],” Ediger said. “Winning your region is nice, but I feel like it’s watered down [with only four to five], it’s too few to say you really won your region.”
While the Central Region will have an increased number of schools competing for playoff places, it should not create much of a competitive disadvantage.
Currently, the top two teams from each region get a berth to the conference playoffs. After those teams, the remaining teams that make up the conference’s top 24 take the rest of the berths. In essence, more than two teams from each region can qualify, but those who finish below second place would have to have a strong record against other conference opponents.
The region chairs will meet on Wednesday, Nov. 29, to discuss input from athletic directors about changes to the state tournament format. From there the chairs will return to the athletic directors with a recommendation, which will then be voted on.
Football, a Different Animal
The new regions intend to create a better balance of competitiveness, especially in football. Schools’ football teams, during recent cycles, have played in regions with different opponents than their other team sports.
Before this current cycle, the AIA allowed for the 2A Metro East to be restructured for more competitiveness. That idea continued into this realignment period.
“The 2A conference, in my opinion, did something positive in creating regions of schools that struggle in football,” Ediger said. “Creating more regions with schools that aren’t overpowering. Regions that would benefit more football teams.”
The Scorpions will be moving to the Salt Region, where it will take on all new opponents: Veritas Preparatory Academy, Antelope Union High School, Scottsdale Prep, Valley Lutheran and Northe Pointe Prep.
Antelope Union, Valley Lutheran and Veritas Prep all won four games last season, while North Pointe Prep won two and Scottsdale Prep zero. The Scorpions were winless this season as well.
“I don’t really know a lot about some of the other teams, but they seem to be teams with low numbers like we have,” said Tom Miller, Red Rock’s athletic director and head football coach. “I think it’s nice to have a fresh start.”
It is noteworthy that Valley Lutheran moves up from Conference 1A, which plays 8-man football.
Also noteworthy is the separation of Red Rock from Verde Valley rival Camp Verde. Miller confirmed that the rivalry will live on in a freedom game next season. He also said that the team will have six home games.
Schedules have not been released, but he also confirmed that the team will travel to Antelope Union the final week of the season. The school is around 40 miles from the California border off of the Interstate 8, making for about a three-and-three-quarter hours trek.
That is roughly equivalent to the trip the team made to Central Region foe Parker High School this season. But the new region also spares it from other long trips it had to St. Johns High School, Paradise Honors, and Tonopah Valley High School, the latter two also region contests.
“Hopefully it’ll be a little more competitive, so I’m encouraged by that, now we have to do our part,” Miller said.
Another freedom game will be against 3A Chino Valley High School, which the Scorpions lost to
28-27 this season.