Arizona high school football regions for 2023 season proposed ahead of appeal process


The high school football regions from Class 2A though 6A for the 2023 season are in place, as announced Tuesday by the AIA, pending appeals by schools by Feb. 7.

The AIA executive board will meet Feb. 21 to hear those appeals and finalize the regions.

Conference committees will then meet from Feb. 22 to March 10 to generate schedules.

The 2023 schedules are scheduled to be posted March 16.

Here are the regions including Southern Arizona schools:

6A Central 

  • Phoenix Brophy Prep
  • Tempe Corona del Sol
  • Phoenix Desert Vista
  • Phoenix Mountain Pointe
  • Salpointe Catholic

Salpointe will shift from the 6A East Valley to the 6A Central and its region opponents change from Mesa Red Mountain, Queen Creek, Gilbert Williams Field and Mesa Mountain View to Phoenix Brophy Prep, Tempe Corona del Sol, Phoenix Desert Vista and Phoenix Mountain Pointe. Last season, Brophy went 3-8, Corona del Sol 8-3, Desert Vista 2-8 and Mountain Pointe 8-4. Salpointe went 7-5 and lost 14-10 in the 6A quarterfinals at Gilbert Highland. Highland went on to win the state championship.

5A Sonoran 

  • Flowing Wells
  • Ironwood Ridge
  • Maricopa
  • Marana Mountain View
  • Nogales
  • Tucson

— Maricopa, which is located northwest of Casa Grande near the Ak-Chin Native American Community, is slated to compete against teams in the Tucson area in 2023. Maricopa was in the 5A Metro last season and finished 0-10. The distance from Maricopa to Tucson is about 85 miles and it takes close to an hour and a half to get there. That’s 170 miles and three hours roundtrip. Teams going there will return to Tucson after midnight. Nogales is also in the region and the drive to and from there to Maricopa is 300 miles and five hours roundtrip. That’s a lot of traveling for Maricopa and Nogales to Tucson schools and now to each other.

— Cholla and Rincon/University were in the 5A Sonoran last season and both have reclassified to 4A this year.

— Sunnyside and Marana have also moved to the 5A Southern and Ironwood Ridge, Tucson and Marana Mountain View have shifted to the 5A Sonoran from the 5A Southern.

5A Southern

  • Buena
  • Casa Grande
  • Cienega
  • Desert View
  • Marana
  • Sunnyside

— Casa Grande is slated to return to competing against Tucson-area schools after spending last season in the 5A San Tan region. The Cougars were in the 4A Kino two years ago when they won the 4A state title. They were placed in the 5A conference before the 2022 season and finished 4-6.

— A bigger development is Sunnyside Unified School District rivals Sunnyside and Desert View placed in the same region. That means the schools will play each other toward the end of the season rather than their customary season opener like in years past.

— Buena and Cienega remain in the 5A Southern with Desert View. Also shifting from the 5A Sonoran is Marana. The Cienega-Marana rivalry also exists dating to the days of Jamarye Joiner and Trenton Bourguet. Buena, which went 7-3 last season, is always competitive under Joseph Thomas.

4A Gila

  • Amphi
  • Cholla
  • Douglas
  • Empire
  • Rincon/University
  • Rio Rico
  • Sahuarita

— A seven-team region means only four non-region games can be scheduled for these schools.

— Cholla and Rincon/University, both of which went from 5A to 4A due to recent struggles, will join this region.

— The Gila and Kino regions have also swapped schools. Amphi, Sahuarita and Rio Rico remain in the 4A Gila while Sahuaro, Catalina Foothills and Walden Grove have departed to 4A Kino. Empire and Douglas will join the 4A Gila from the 4A Kino.

— Schools in this new region went a combined 16-54 in the 2022 season with none of them having a winning season.

4A Kino 

  • Canyon del Oro
  • Catalina Foothills
  • Mica Mountain
  • Pueblo
  • Sahuaro
  • Walden Grove

— Schools in this highly-competitive region went 41-22 last season with none of them having a losing season.

— Canyon del Oro, Mica Mountain and Pueblo remain in the 4A Kino while Catalina Foothills, Sahuaro and Walden Grove have shifted over from the 4A Gila. Casa Grande Vista Grande, which was 7-4 last season, has left the 4A Kino for the 4A Desert Sky (where it will play Phoenix-area schools).

3A South 

  • Morenci
  • Pusch Ridge
  • Sabino
  • Safford
  • Thatcher

— Gone is Benson and Palo Verde (combined 7-14 last year) to the 2A and former 2A power Morenci shifts into what has annually been one of the tougher regions of any classification in the state. Morenci went 12-2 last year and lost in the 2A state championship game against Pima (which has remained in the 2A).

— Thatcher is coming off a 13-1 season in which it lost in the 3A title game against Eastmark. Pusch Ridge was 11-2 and Sabino 8-4. That means the schools in this region were a combined 44-9 in 2022 with two teams that reached a state title game and another (Pusch Ridge) that advanced to the 3A semifinals, where it lost to Eastmark. Sabino went to the quarterfinals of the 3A state playoffs.

2A San Pedro 

  • Benson
  • Bisbee
  • Catalina
  • Palo Verde
  • Santa Rita
  • Tanque Verde
  • Tombstone
  • Willcox

— Eight teams in this region translates to only three non-region games scheduled.

— Palo Verde and Benson join the region from the 3A South. That means Benson returns to the 2A region after one year reuniting with longtime rivals Bisbee, Tombstone and Willcox. Catalina, Palo Verde, Santa Rita and Tanque Verde are Tucson-area schools involved.

— A possibility existed that Santa Rita and Catalina could be reclassified to 1A (eight-man football) after the Eagles were forced to cancel their operations midway through the 2022 season because of a lack of eligible and healthy players and the Trojans finished 1-9 with the lone win a forfeit over Santa Rita. But with both placed in the 2A San Pedro, that won’t happen at least this season.


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.

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