REGION — Some of the local football teams will see familiar faces in the fall while others will not.
The Arizona Interscholastic Association announced the region realignments for the 2020 to 2022 seasons on Tuesday. Bisbee and Tombstone high schools remain in the San Pedro Region while Buena High School moves from the 5A Southern Region to the Sonoran I with five new teams.
The San Pedro region will look a little different, as Santa Rita was removed and replaced with Morenci and Pima. Both Bisbee and Tombstone played Pima last season in non-region games. Bisbee beat the Roughriders, while Tombstone lost to them. Bisbee also played Morenci last season, which provides a familiar feel for the Pumas. Morenci handed Bisbee one of their two losses last season.
“I was hoping to get Pima and Morenci back on the schedule anyway,” Bisbee head coach Brian Vertrees told the herald/Review earlier this week. “I think the San Pedro region is going to be the toughest in the 2A.”
“It’s going to be a gauntlet of competition.”
Vertrees said when he was in high school, Morenci was in the same region and he’s glad their back because there are multiple connections between the two schools and communities.
“There are a lot of family ties between the two communities,” he said. “There are familiar faces and familiar names.”
The new San Pedro region consists of six teams, instead of five: Benson, Bisbee, Morenci, Pima, Tombstone and Willcox. All of whom are familiar with one another.
Buena’s region schedule will have just one team returning from last year’s 10-game regular season. The Colts, who finished the 2019 season with an 8-2 record and their first playoff appearance since 2013. Buena was assigned to the Sonoran I region which includes: Cholla, Desert View, Flowing Wells, Mountain View Marana and Salpointe Catholic who moves to the 5A from the 4A.
Colts head coach Joe Thomas said the only team they have not played in his tenure is Cholla, which finished 2-8 last season.
“It’s exciting. It’s something new,” Thomas said. “It won’t be as tough as regions we’ve been in the past.”
In order to strengthen their schedule for power points — which helps with conference rankings and playoff seeding — Thomas said they are hoping to add Cienega, Ironwood Ridge McClintock and Sunrise Mountain to their final schedule. Sunrise Mountain eliminated Buena from the playoffs this past season.
“It’s different not having Ironwood Ridge and Cienega in our region,” Thomas said.
Mountain View Marana is the only one team in the Colts’ new region to have made the playoffs last season.
Teams had until Wednesday to appeal their region placement. The AIA said in a statement sent to statewide media “conference committees have until Feb. 18 to finalize teams’ schedules in the system.”