PHOENIX — After much hand-wringing and anticipation by coaches and administrators, new region placements for 11-man football were finally released Tuesday.
In Pinal County, some schools have a significant shakeup in their schedule, while others have a remarkably similar look to the last two-year scheduling block.
Casa Grande Union is a member of the 4A Kino, along with Sahuarita Walden Grove, Tucson Pueblo, Oro Valley Canyon del Oro, Tucson Sahuaro and new school Vail Mica Mountain, which opens in July. The previous version of the 4A Kino, which included CG Union, was also a predominantly Tucson-area region.
Vista Grande initially appealed to move down from Class 4A to 3A but later withdrew its appeal. The Spartans will play in the 4A Copper Sky against Phoenix Sierra Linda, Phoenix Carl Hayden, Phoenix Washington and Yuma. Vista Grande was previously in the 4A Kino with CG Union.
The 4A Black Canyon will appropriately group three Pinal schools along the Ironwood/Gantzel Road corridor. Combs and Apache Junction, which were in the previous version of the 4A Black Canyon, welcome Poston Butte to the party. Rounding out the region are Phoenix Arcadia and Tempe High.
Maricopa, the only 5A football program in the county, is in the 5A East. That region includes Gilbert Campo Verde, Gilbert High, Scottsdale Horizon, Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep and perennial power Scottsdale Saguaro.
At the 3A level, every Pinal team will play in the same region, the 3A Central. Florence, Coolidge, San Tan Foothills and American Leadership Academy-Ironwood will be joined by Mesa Eastmark. Those four Pinal teams were together in the previous 3A Central. The big difference is powerhouse programs ALA-Queen Creek and Queen Creek Benjamin Franklin are gone after being moved up to 4A.
Pinal County used to have just one 2A team, Santa Cruz Valley. That will change, as Santa Cruz will be joined by Maricopa Sequoia Pathway in the 2A Rillito region. Sequoia Pathway is moving up to the Arizona Interscholastic Association; it was a member of the Canyon Athletic Association. The rest of the region includes Wellton Antelope, Tucson Catalina, Tucson Santa Rita and Tucson Tanque Verde.