Realignment Hangs In The Balance For East Region

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Athletic directors in the 3A conference are sorting through a mess that could take as long to unravel as the Florida ballots.

The problem centers around Holbrook leaving the East region next school year to become a member of the North.

In connection with that move, Globe was to leave the South region and replace the Roadrunners in the East.

However, Globe officials balked at the move and officially appealed the plan to the Arizona Interscholastic Association, saying travel would be too extensive in the East. Some observers speculated that Globe officials and coaches don't want to play in the East region, which is far more competitive than the South.

Globe's appeal to the AIA was upheld and the East was left with just six teams Blue Ridge, Snowflake, Payson, Show Low, Round Valley and Alchesay. The North now has nine teams and both the South and West have eight each.

If the regions remain as they are now, Payson High School Athletic Director Dave Bradley will have a nightmare on his hands when he tries to fill his football and basketball schedules.

With only six teams in the East, Bradley will have to schedule four nonregion football contests and 10 nonregion basketball games.

But those games would be tough to schedule because the other, larger regions would be in the midst of regional play when the East teams were still playing nonregion games.

Most 4A teams won't want to play 3A schools because a power-ranking exists in the 4A conference that seeds teams to state based on the quality of their opponents. Playing a 3A school would do nothing for their power ranking.

One of the solutions to the dilemma of playing in a six-team region would be to schedule Northern Arizona Reservation teams. But that means extensive travel to schools such as Ganado, Tuba City and Monument Valley. Bradley and other administrators are trying to stay away from those kinds of jaunts because they're expensive and keep student athletes out of their classrooms for longer periods of times.

The PHS boys and girls basketball teams played in Monument Valley a year ago and spent nearly 10 full hours traveling to and from the school.

PHS boys basketball coach Randy Wilcox, who once coached at a New Mexico reservation school, said the trip was one of the most exhaustive he's made.

Bradley said he and other East administrators are working feverously to rectify the realignment situation and have filed an appeal to the AIA Executive Board.

The board made up of the presidents of the state's conferences will hear the appeal and have the power to switch the realignment so they are more equitable for all.

However, if the East is forced to remain a six-team region, it won't be the smallest it's ever been. In 1983-84, the East featured just four teams Payson, Show Low, Holbrook and Snowflake.

Watch for the results of the AIA hearing in a future issue of the Roundup.

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