Kingman High, Lee Williams High land in new football divisions

Volunteers will play a varsity schedule next season

RODNEY HAAS/Miner<br>
Lee Williams High coach Eugene Kramer and his volunteers will play a varsity football schedule next season, a year earlier that previously planned.

RODNEY HAAS/Miner<br> Lee Williams High coach Eugene Kramer and his volunteers will play a varsity football schedule next season, a year earlier that previously planned.

Kingman High and Lee Williams High will see some major changes in football next season after the Arizona Interscholastic Association finalized new division placements last week.

The big change for Lee Williams will come from the school's decision to compete at the varsity level in football - a year earlier than planned - while KHS will move from Division II to Division III.

The AIA's executive board heard 33 member schools appeals for division placements and approved 19 of them.

One of the appeals heard and approved was from Kingman High athletic director John Venenga, who was trying to get the school's placement in swimming down from Division I to Division II, and the school's football placement in Division II down to Division III.

"I think it will help us in the long run," Venenga said. "We are going to be more competitive with those schools and I think it's going to help us with our individual sports more so than our team sports."

The AIA makes its division placements based on enrollment. Venenga used KHS's enrollment of 1,810 students as of Oct. 1, which originally placed the school's placement in Division II for all sports but swimming. However, Venenga appealed that decision because the school is expected to lose around 230 students over the two-year block as Lee Williams High School continues to add students and slowly become a fully functioning high school with four grade levels.

"They agreed to allow us to use next year's projected numbers for placements for our sports beginning next year," Venenga said. "We project that Lee Williams will get another 230 students, which will take us down to 1579."

KHS will have the seventh-largest enrollment of the schools in Division III. Enrollments range from 2,734 for Alhambra High to 217 for Phoenix Christian. More than half the schools in the division have enrollments exceeding 1,500.

Lee Williams opened this year to freshman only and will add one class each year over the next three years.

LWHS competed in varsity for golf and cross country this past fall and is expected to compete at the varsity level in track this spring. In all other sports, Lee Williams is playing a freshman/junior varsity schedule. Starting next year, the school is expected to compete in varsity in cross country, football, golf, wrestling, track and spirit line.

"Those are sports we are going to participate in varsity over the next two-year block," said LWHS athletic director Cory Williams. "The other sports, like volleyball, baseball and basketball, I think we landed in Division IV but they are not varsity sports over the next two years."

Williams used a projection of 1,010 students in the 2015-16 school year for the school's division placement and appealed the school's placement in football from Division IV to V.

"New schools like this - that's how they project that number," Williams said. "When I went through the process to petition down to Division V, I had to answer so many questions, but what they were looking at is where we would be on the back end of that two-year block."

Williams' projection is that LWHS will have anywhere between 700-750 students when the two-year block ends after the 2014-15 school year, which would put it in line with some of the top schools in Division V. It will also come at a time when the school will house grades 9-11.

"I think they took that into account, that we are starting a new progra m and that's part of the process of how they made that determination," Williams said.

The school's decision to make the jump to varsity level in football comes a year earlier than planned, but it was something that Williams felt needed to be done because of the complexity of scheduling for football and trying to fill a schedule in the middle of a two-year block.

"If we waited until we were juniors I would be in the same boat as I was this year," Williams said. "With football, it's nearly impossible and you only have 11 weeks to play."