Aia Considers Move To Fall Soccer

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If the Arizona Interscholastic Association adheres to a recommendation it received from its club committee, the Longhorns might return to playing soccer during the fall season.

When Payson High was a 3A school two years ago, soccer was a fall sport. Now that PHS is aligned in the 4A conference, soccer is a winter offering. Most of the 1A to 3A schools continue to play soccer in the fall.

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If the AIA follows a recommendation, soccer could again be played in the fall rather than the winter as it now is.

The committee recommended Sept. 14 to the AIA executive board that both 4A and 5A schools move their seasons from winter to fall as is done in most of the country.

PHS Athletic Director Dave Bradley said he doubts the change will happen.

"I just don't see it going," he said. "It would not be a problem here, but it would be at other schools, especially some of those in our (Grand Canyon) region."

The problems with playing both soccer and football in the fall, Bradley said, would be the conflict over the use of playing fields. Many Valley schools, and some in Flagstaff, play their soccer games on football fields.

The conflict over facilities and scheduling would make playing the two sports in the same season difficult, Bradley said. In Payson, the Longhorn soccer teams play their games on the Rumsey Park multipurpose fields so there would be no clash with football.

Among those who opposed playing soccer in the winter is former Lady Longhorn coach Randy Wilcox. He argued that in the northland, winter weather conditions are too harsh to play an outdoor sport. He also contended that travel to Flagstaff on iced, snowy roads can be hazardous.

Another club committee recommendation to the AIA Executive Board was to allow prep athletes to play with both their high school and club teams during the same season. That change would involve using a waiver system in which club games played would count against the number of high school games athletes are allowed to play.

The 10-member executive board will discuss the club committee's recommendations at its Oct. 18 meeting. Any changes that are made would not go into effect until next school year.

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