Some Pinal County football conferences have new competitors thanks to Arizona Interscholastic Association changes

Alexis Young

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By Alexis Young / NewsBreak Pinal County, AZ

The Arizona Interscholastic Association made a plethora of changes to football programs across Pinal County. PinalCentral has dedicated a two-part series to illustrating the AIA moves from conference adjustments to new teams. Schools in conferences 6A-4A play take the field in September.

Casa Grande Union High School

The Casa Grande Union Cougars are moving up and moving out of the 4A Conference with a state championship title under their belt. American Leadership Academy-Queen Creek and Mesquite High School will be following in their footsteps, making the same transition from 4A to 5A Conference. Casa Grande Union’s football team is the last sporting event to make the 5A switch. The Cougars are also the latest edition to the San Tan Region joining the Mesquite Wildcats, ALA-Queen Creek Patriots, Horizon High School Scorpions, Higley High School Knights, Campo Verde High School Coyotes. The pre-established rivalry between the Wildcats and the Cougars will continue with the 5A move. Both teams have earned titles over the other in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

Maricopa High School

Unfortunately for Maricopa High School, the transition for one conference to a more advanced one was not a trend the Rams followed, despite other MHS sports competing at the 6A level. Though the Rams are joining the Betty H. Fairfax Stampede, McClintock High School Chargers, Camelback High School Spartans, Central High School Bobcats and the South Mountain High School Jaguars the Metro Region; the PinalCentral sports report suggests this season might be a difficult one. The Rams have a new matchup with the Combs Coyotes but games against 2020 5A title holders, Sunrise Mountain High School Mustangs and the 55-0 annihilation delivered by the CG Union Cougars are scheduled earlier in the season.

Combs High School

The Combs High School Coyotes are under new management and the Desert Sky Region with the Arcadia High School Titans, Marcos de Niza High School Padres, Seton Catholic Preparatory Sentinels and Arizona College Prep High School Knights. The Combs Coyotes will be competing against the Coolidge High School Bears for the first time since 2015. That year the Coyotes ended a four-peat with a win of 34-17. 

Poston Butte High School

The Poston Butte High School Broncos are now playing in the Big Sky Region. They’ll be going head-to-head with ALA-Gilbert North Eagles, Snowflake Union High School Lobos, Benjamin Franklin High School Chargers and Apache Junction High School Prospectors. PinalCentral says though the Broncos’ run game is strong the Eagles’ passing game could be the Broncos’ weakness. 

Apache Junction High School

Competing in the Big Sky Region with Poston Butte, ALA-Gilbert North, Snowflake High and Benjamin Franklin High School, the Apache Junction High School Prospectors will stand off with the San Tan Foothills High School Sabercats in a brand new matchup. The Prospectors will continue beefing with the Combs Coyotes in an early season Battle of Ironwood. They’ll also have the opportunity to rematch Lee Williams High School Volunteers who whooped the Prospectors in the 2021 4A playoffs.

Vista Grande High School

Last season, for the first time since 2015, the Vista Grande High School Spartans had a winning record under Jon Roberts. Coming out of their 5-4 season, the Spartans are in the Kino Region with Douglas High School Bulldogs, Canyon Del Oro High School Dorados, Empire High School Ravens, Mica Mountain High School Thunderbirds and Pueblo High School Warriors. As the Thunderbirds prepare for their first full length varsity season, PinalCentral sports report predicts that the Spartans biggest competition are the Dorados.

The full write up on Arizona Interscholastic Association’s changes to Pinal County football programs is available on PinalCentral.com. The second installment of the report, covering schools in 3A and 2A conferences, will be available on Thursday according to author and sports editor, Maria Vasquez.

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