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Wed, May 22

KAHS links football future to CAA

KINGMAN - When an organization from Phoenix and one from Kingman form a synergy that is certain to propel both institutions forward into the future, eyebrows should be raised in anticipation of that future. By all appearances, the Charter Athletic Association and Kingman Academy High have entered into a relationship that will reward the greater good.

During the 2007-08 sports seasons, KAHS had all of its athletic teams participate in the CAA except for football. The football team played in the Arizona High School Football Federation, or AZHSFF. The CAA has recently announced that it would administer tackle football, and KAHS has left the AZHSFF for the CAA.

"It's a new league, and we're really excited," KAHS athletic director Eric Lillis said.

Excitement for the new football league is another bridge that brings the CAA and KAHS together. "We're super excited about football," said Randy Baum, CAA commissioner. "Salt River High will host the state championship."

A contingent factor of KAHS moving its football schedule over to the CAA was being able to keep playing its natural rivalries. Along with KAHS, Bullhead City MALC, Lake Havasu City Telesis and Quartzsite Scholars comprise the CAA North League in all the other sports and were in the AZHSFF together. Lillis said that all four schools agreed that if one of them decided not to move over, none of them would.

"We didn't want to be traveling to Phoenix for all of our road games," he said.

All four schools agreed to move in part because of the decisions of Chandler El Dorado and Phoenix NFL Yet to join the CAA as well.

"There are nine confirmed teams," Lillis said. "El Dorado and NFL Yet were by far the two biggest teams to come over from the AZHSFF."

Tackle football is not the only new sport to come under the CAA umbrella for the 2008-09 seasons. Bowling and ultimate Frisbee are two sports that have been added as well. Though Lillis said that KAHS probably would not field an ultimate Frisbee team, he is open and intrigued by the thought of a bowling team.

"We may do that. We also talked about making golf a stronger sport in the CAA."

One sport that KAHS hasn't offered is baseball, which CAA already administers. KAHS does have fielding a baseball team in its sights, seemingly sooner rather than later. "Baseball is probably going to happen," Lillis said. "I believe it's going to go."

For the CAA, it isn't just about offering more sports for its member schools. Baum expressed serious interest in bringing in more schools even though the CAA has had a rapid growth spurt.

"We started with five schools, and now we're at 60," Baum said. "We're trying to get teams from outside the valley to join us." He said that the CAA is in talks with several schools from Tucson, and with the success of the North League he would like to see more schools from northern Arizona. Baum said he was very interested in Peach Springs.

Baum also said that the CAA is trying to provide athletic competition for charter and smaller schools that can't afford the Arizona Interscholastic Association, or AIA, which Kingman High belongs to. He said the CAA doesn't charge thousands of dollars for services, either. "We try to be like a family," he said. "It's a business, but we want it to be like family."

One of the most glaring weaknesses of the CAA is the inability to require specifications regarding playing surfaces. The schools in the CAA have to make do with what they have, and most of them can't afford to do any better. However, that hasn't stopped the CAA from taking huge strides as far as the state tournaments are concerned.

"Eventually, we want to get land and make a complex for all the teams to use for all sports," Baum said.

In the meantime, Baum and the CAA have set up an working agreement with Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. Grand Canyon will host at least the volleyball and softball championships. "They want our kids to be recognized," Baum said. "Hopefully, we'll be able to play soccer there as well."

The holdup about soccer is with the calendar. Baum said that Grand Canyon's soccer facility is in high demand and finding room for the CAA has been difficult.

The kids who play basketball for CAA teams will have some extra motivation this upcoming season. The CAA will hold the state championships at U.S. Airways Center, home of the Suns and Mercury. Not only will the players get to play on that court, there is the possibility of a further prize. "We have some small companies that will be buying tickets for a Suns game night either the night before or after our championship day," Baum said.

As KAHS' representative, Lillis has nothing but wonderful things to say about Baum and the CAA. "People have seen his product, and it has been amazing," Lillis said. "I'm pretty sure this (the CAA) is going to last."

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