Remember the old Sears-Roebuck “Wish Books” that every child anxiously waited for each Christmas because it was a thickly bound tome containing a seemingly endless number of pages picturing the latest in toys, games and playthings?
The holiday gift catalog reminds of the recently released “Initial Placement for Divisions by Sport” handbook authored by Arizona Interscholastic Association officials because it’s almost as bulky with 106 pages.
That huge volume was needed because in the new AIA mandated division alignments, which begin for team sports next school year, each sport is assigned its own division.
Which means, a school’s football team might not play the same opponents as does its basketball squad.
The new “division” alignment replaces the “conference” format that has been used for decades.
In football, Payson High has been placed in Division IV, which includes some former Class 4A schools and most of the current 3A teams.
The largest school in the division is Scottsdale Coronado with 1,295 students. Mingus is second largest with 1,260 pupils.
The smallest schools are North Pointe Preparatory (490) and Parker (530).
Division IV also includes some southern Arizona schools including Tucson Sabino, Rio Rico, Tucson Salpointe and Palo Verde Magnet School.
The only current 3A East Region team not placed in Division IV is Round Valley High School, which was sent to Division V, probably because the Eagar-Springerville school has an enrollment of 445 students.
Other current 3A schools that will compete in Division V next year include Santa Cruz and Sedona Red Rock.
Other than those three teams, Division V is comprised mostly of current 2A schools.
In football, the realignment includes six divisions — 1 through 5 will include current 2A to 5A schools. Division 6 will house schools that play eight-man football.
Each of the 1 through 5 divisions will contain about 40 teams.
Schools have until Oct. 25 to appeal their division placement by sport, including spirit lines.
Payson is not among those expected to appeal. In fact, only two schools will probably seek a move up from Division IV in football: St. Mary’s Catholic High School and Seton Catholic High School.
St. Mary’s has an enrollment of 602 students, but currently plays in the “big school” 5A conference. Seton has 542 students, but currently competes in the 4A conference. Final division placements, after appeals are heard, will be announced Nov. 15 and will be in effect for the 2011 to 2013 seasons.
After division placements are finalized the process of placing teams in their respective sections begins.
Each of five divisions will contain three sections. Each Division IV section will contain 13 or 14 teams, probably grouped geographically.
Because Payson is located in the center of the state, the Longhorns could conceivably be aligned in any of the three sections, including Tucson.