AIA looks to bring back region play begining in the fall

With division placements final, the Arizona Interscholastic Association took the next step of finalizing its two-year scheduling block by announcing initial section placements this week.

Kingman High, which will play in Division II in all sports but football, has been placed in sections that will include a majority of schools that they play now as the AIA looks to bring back regions.

"They want to get back to sectional awards and all section teams and things like that when you actually see everybody," said KHS Athletic Director John Venenga.

Schools have until Jan. 10 to appeal section placement's. The AIA's executive board will hear the appeals on Jan. 22 and release the final placement on Jan. 23.

Venenga said he has no plans to appeal the placement.

Prior to the current two-year scheduling block that went into effect in the fall of 2011, KHS played in the 5A Division II's Northwest Region that consisted of other 5A-II schools located in the Phoenix area.

However, as part of a cost-cutting measure by the AIA to trim the number of state tournaments and to reduce the travel costs, the AIA decided to do away with conferences and instead replace them with divisions that were based on the number of schools participating in a particular sport.

Another change was computerized scheduling that divided each division into sections, as the computer would search for opponents that were geographically close.

Because of these changes, the idea of a region was gone as KHS was placed in Division II, section III in football and only faced two of the possible 12 teams in that section.

Beginning next year, KHS will be placed in Division III, section IV for football and will continue to play the Flagstaff- and Prescott-area schools along with Bullhead City Mohave and will pick up Cottonwood Mingus as part of the section schedule.

The same will be true in volleyball, basketball and soccer except there will be more teams, including five Phoenix-area schools in their respective sections.

"The thing that is going to be very interesting is when you look at our basketball sections," Venenga said. "There are 12 or 13 teams and with that number of games you are limited to play everybody once."

The only sports that won't have sections will be golf, swimming, and track and field.

In addition to the section games, Venenga can schedule freedom games where schools can play a team they may have a long rivalry with but they play in a different section.

For football, that means Venenga can schedule up to four games and has confirmed that one of those games will be Lake Havasu. Others could be Parker, River Valley and Wickenburg.

"We are not going to pick those until January but I would like to get something set up with some of the schools so I'm ready to go when we get there," Venenga said.