The co-defending state champion Longhorn soccer team, along with their Lady Longhorn counterparts, might not be moving to the Class 4A Grand Canyon region.
Athletic Director Dave Bradley is asking athletic directors of the 1A-3A fall soccer league schools, which the Horns participated in last season, for permission to continue to be a member of that league. Last fall, in an Arizona Interscholastic Association realignment, Payson High was moved to the 4A conference from the 3A because the school’s student count surpassed the 3A maximum of 949 students.
If the athletic directors of the 30 1A-3A schools grant Bradley’s request, Payson soccer would continue to be a member of the small school league rather than moving to the 4A as all other PHS sports team will.
Bradley sent the request Nov. 25 and said he expects to receive a reply sometime after Thanksgiving. He said he has no idea if the request will be granted.
According to Bradley, the request to remain in the 1A-3A league was made because the Longhorns want to continue to play the sport in the fall. The 4A conference, which Payson will be a member of for the next two school years, plays soccer in the winter months.
The 5A conference also plays its games in the winter.
In Bradley’s request to league athletic directors, he wrote that Payson High’s attendance was down to 891 students less than the 4A minimum.
Bradley also anticipates school numbers will continue to be less than the 4A standard.
“We expect declining enrollment the next three years with incoming freshmen classes of 220 or less,” he said.
Mike Haddow, athletic director at Chino Valley High School and the president of the 1A-3A Fall Soccer League, will poll the results of the AD’s voting.
If the petition is turned down, the Payson soccer teams would compete in the 4A winter league with Flagstaff, Sinagua, Coconino, Mingus, Page and Chinle.