Biannual Conference Shuffle Planned This Week


Region and conference alignments for Arizona Interscholastic Association member schools, including Payson High, will be decided Oct. 12 by the AIA executive board.

The alignments affect 251 schools and 287,671 students.

High schools hoping to change regions or conferences have until tomorrow, Wednesday, to petition both the region they are leaving and the region/conference they want to join.

If the petitions are denied, the schools may appeal the decision Oct. 18.

The final alignments will be for a two-year block beginning with the 2007-2008 school year.

For the 3A conference, the alignments are particularly meaningful in that one school, Chandler Seton Catholic, is expected to petition to move to the 4A ranks and three parochial schools -- Phoenix Christian, Scottsdale Christian, Northwest Christian and Valley Christian -- are anticipating moving up to 3A from 2A.

The 3A conference is currently composed of 30 schools with student body populations of 450 to 949 students.

With 888 students, PHS is the seventh largest school in 3A and is a member of the East region.

PHS athletic director Dave Bradley says Payson will remain a 3A school in the realignment but he is unsure if the Longhorns will remain in the East region.

If the four parochial schools are admitted to the 3A ranks, the conference might be expanded to five regions from four.

The last, and only, two year block of time that 3A had five regions was in 1997 through 1999 when a Central was added to the long-standing North, South, East and West regions, mostly because the now defunct Arizona Boys Ranch became a conference school.

During those years, AIA officials moved Payson from the East to the Central where ABR was also placed.

When the conference was reduced to four teams two year later, the Longhorns returned to the East.

If a "Central" is added for the upcoming two-year schedule block, a possible scenario is Payson leaving the East and becoming a member of that region, possibly sharing the schedule with four Christian schools and Fountain Hills.

Seton could also be a member school should it not decided to petition up to 4A.

Joining the Central region might be a good move for Payson in that basketball and wrestling teams would not have to travel over the Rim on the snow-packed Highway 260 as they now often do.

That travel is often slow and tedious due to poor highway conditions.

For the baseball team, playing spring games in the Valley is much more appealing than battling the wind and cold that usually dominate the weather at the White Mountain schools.

If Payson is moved to the Central region, Winslow might be asked to leave the North and become a member of the East.

Bradley said there are numerous possibilities that could unfold, depending on which schools ask to shift regions or conferences.

"We just have to wait and see what happens," he said. "This happens every two years."

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