Palo Verde, which had to cancel its 2021 football season because of a lack of participants, appealed to be realigned from 4A to 3A with the AIA and the governing body’s executive board granted that move Wednesday.
The Titans, coached by Mike Wells, played a limited junior varsity schedule in 2021 because close to only 20 players comprised what would have been the varsity team, just two of them seniors at the outset of practice early last fall.
Rio Rico, which will be coached the legendary Jeff Scurran in 2022, also was granted its request through the appeal process to remain in 4A instead of moving to 3A. The appeal was made for competitive reasons and also travel concerns with some 3A teams in Bisbee, Willcox, Thatcher and Safford.
Sahuarita was also granted permission with its appeal to move from 3A to 4A for similar reasons as Rio Rico.
Salpointe, which was realigned from 5A to 6A in December, was unsuccessful with its appeal and will compete as the lone Southern Arizona school in the highest classification starting this fall. The Lancers are slated to be in a regional alignment called the 6A Northeast Valley with powerhouse Scottsdale Saguaro as well as Phoenix Brophy Prep, Scottsdale Chaparral and Phoenix Pinnacle.
Other Southern Arizona schools that were denied their appeal:
Benson, must go from 2A to 3A (wanted to stay at 2A).
Cholla and Rincon/University, both must stay in 5A and not move to 4A (they wanted to be realigned to 4A).
The 6A Conference has the following proposed regional alignment involving Salpointe. The alignments will be finalized Tuesday. Member schools will have until Feb. 8 to appeal any region placements before the next Executive Board meeting on Feb. 22, where a final vote will take place to move forward with the 2022 alignments.
6A – Northeast Valley (5 teams)
Saguaro (Moved from 5A to 6A by AIA)
Salpointe Catholic (Moved from 5A to 6A by AIA)
The 2A through 5A regions have not yet been set.
These are the Southern Arizona schools with their conference alignments:
Tucson (moved from 6A to 5A by the AIA)
Rio Rico (originally realigned to 3A but was granted through appeal to stay at 4A by the AIA Executive Board)
Sahuarita (moved from 3A to 4A after an appeal was granted by the AIA Executive Board)
Benson (moved from 2A to 3A by the AIA)
Palo Verde (moved from 4A to 3A after an appeal was granted by the AIA Executive Board)
Santa Cruz Valley
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.