CASA GRANDE — After months of speculation, planning and research, high school football is just around the corner.
The regular season begins in earnest three weeks from now, with the vast majority of teams playing their first games Oct. 2. The Arizona Interscholastic Association’s fall sports calendar allowed schools to begin official practices Monday.
Revised schedules for all conferences lagged behind much of the other preparation for the season. However, the schedules are mostly set in stone at this point, with some exceptions.
In Pinal County, all systems are go. For the dozen Pinal County teams playing 11-man football, 11 of them seem to have a finalized schedule. The only school that has remaining questions is Casa Grande Union.
Maricopa, the only Pinal football team playing in Class 5A, has an eight-game schedule. All the other teams playing at the 2A, 3A and 4A level will have seven regular season games.
One major factor that has affected schedules is what teams are doing in public school districts in Pima County.
All of the county’s public school superintendents have said they will not return to athletic activities until they have in-person instruction on their campuses. They also said they would let the Pima County Health Department determine when it is safe to resume in-person instruction.
That has affected CG Union, as all five of its 4A Kino region opponents are Pima County schools.
As of Thursday afternoon, CG Union was scheduled to open its season Oct. 2 on the road against Tucson Salpointe Catholic, a private school not sharing the same mindset as Pima County public schools.
CG Union coach Jake Barro told PinalCentral on Wednesday evening that there will likely be some changing of dates to several of the Cougars games listed on the AIA’s website.
But Barro said the first two games of the season — on the road against Salpointe Catholic on Oct. 2 and at home against Lake Havasu on Oct. 9 — are “pretty set” to go on as scheduled.
Here’s a look at the Pinal County football schedules for the first two weeks of the season.
Week 1 — Oct. 2 unless otherwise noted
Maricopa vs. Surprise Willow Canyon (Oct. 1)
Casa Grande at Tucson Salpointe Catholic
Vista Grande vs. Phoenix Shadow Mountain
Poston Butte at Phoenix Thunderbird
Combs at Avondale West Point
Apache Junction at Gilbert Mesquite
Florence at Coolidge
San Tan Foothills vs. Chandler AZ College Prep
ALA-Ironwood at Winslow
Santa Cruz Valley vs. San Tan Charter
Sequoia Pathway at Bisbee
Week 2 — Oct. 9
Maricopa vs. Phoenix Camelback
Casa Grande vs. Lake Havasu
Vista Grande at Phoenix St. Mary’s
Poston Butte vs. Phoenix Arcadia
Combs vs. Tempe
Apache Junction at Prescott
Coolidge at Santa Cruz Valley
Florence vs. Fountain Hills
San Tan Foothills at ALA-Gilbert North
ALA-Ironwood vs. Phoenix Cortez
Sequoia Pathway vs. Tombstone