It’s official: Corona del Sol athletics will be part of the new East Valley Region, originally approved by the 5A conference members Oct. 23, with one exception. Appeals were ruled on by the AIA 5A Executive Board on Nov. 17, and Highland High won its appeal to become part of the new East Valley Region.
So, starting in fall 2009, Corona will be playing for region championships in all sports against Basha, Mesa Mountain View, Gilbert, Dobson, Mesquite and Highland.
An earlier proposal by Marcos de Niza athletic director Mike Griffith was based on geography, numbers, but most significantly competition. It appears, though, that Corona may be leaving one of the most competitive regions in the state to compete in a region that will be just as tough but have more schools.
“Obviously, the new region we will be competing against and the number of schools will have a big impact on Corona’s athletic program,” said Corona Athletic Director Dan Nero.
“It will be tougher to win region championships. However, we have competed with these East Valley schools at a very high level for the last several years.”
So what will happen to the rest of the Central region?
“Mountain Pointe will be in the new Pima
Region with Casa Grande, Desert Ridge, Marcos de Niza, Perry, Skyline and Westwood,” said Nero.
“Desert Vista will be in the new Central Region with Brophy/Xavier, Chandler, Hamilton, Mesa and Red Mountain.
Most Corona coaches feel the competition will still be strong in the new region.
“Volleyball-wise, we are still going to be in a very tough region,” said girls volleyball coach Ben Maxfield. “We will have Gilbert and Mesa Mountain View, who like Mountain Point and DV, are always in the top five. Add Basha to the mix, they get stronger every year, and you have one very competitive region.”
“It will still be a good league,” said Corona football coach Gary Venturo. “All of these schools will be competitive for Corona football to play against.”
“The competition will still be strong for the Aztec basketball program,” said Corona boys basketball coach Sammie Duane Jr.
“I used to coach at Mesquite, so I’m familiar with the competition at some of those East Valley schools. It isn’t going to be any easier.”
“It’s not going to have much of an impact on the Corona girls golf program in the beginning, except we will have more schools to compete with for the region championship,” said Corona girls golf coach Pat Reed.
Several coaches said they would miss the long-time rivalries with Mountain Pointe and Desert Vista but hope to still try to schedule these schools to play against Corona whenever possible.
“We will try to play matches against Mountain Pointe and Desert Vista if we can,” said Maxfield. “Supposedly a computer is just going to spit out the schedules, though.”
Several current and former student athletes were shocked that Corona would no longer be in the Central region with Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe.
“Personally, I don’t like the new region alignment because it takes away from traditional rivalries that Corona has had with Mountain Pointe and DV for years,” said senior basketball player Leland Devlin.
“Region games between Corona and other Central Region schools usually draw a big fan base, and I think that it will all be lost when Corona has to go play games as far away as Mountain View, Gilbert Highland and others.”
“I don’t think that switching the regions around is a good idea,” said former Corona volleyball, cross country and track athlete Emily Whitney. “Corona has been playing Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe for so long, it gives you such a great desire to win. You have to beat them; you have no other choice.”
"Being in a different region next year will be weird because we've had this rivalry with Desert Vista in cross country and soccer for so long,” said junior Corona athlete Katie Huch. “I mean, we've run and played against some of the players since junior high. There will be good competition in the new region, but it will just be different."
“It’s totally unbelievable, we’ve had those rivalries for such a long time,” said former Corona football player and wrestler Travis Fulton. “Corona’s games with Mountain Pointe and DV have notoriously been so close and intense, I feel changing the regions around is going to wreck that intensity.”
I’m sure that there were legitimate reason to change the regions around but I don’t think it’s fair for some athletes,” said former Corona volleyball player Maya Janousek. “I know our team would get so pumped up to play region games against DV and Mountain Pointe. It’s going to take a long time for other region rivals to develop.”
Athletic district realignment is not new to Arizona or the 5A conference. It’s just new for Corona, Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe because they have been together since the Central Region’s inception.
Even though the competition was tough, the old Central Region was sort of like home: comfortable and with a knowledge of what to expect. Some may have even rooted for Central Region teams to win, once Corona was out, just for the recognition. Corona athletes will have to adjust, at least for the 2009-2011 seasons.
“All of our sports will have to step up to the competition,” said Nero. “Each of these schools have several very strong programs. The Aztecs will have to meet the challenge of some of the toughest 5A Division I competition in the state.”