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New regions created without much controversy

Published: Thursday, Nov. 29 2012 8:55 p.m. MST

Rob Cuff, executive director of UHSAA, for Five Questions Feature in Salt Lake City, Utah, Friday, May 28, 2010.  Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Rob Cuff, executive director of UHSAA, for Five Questions Feature in Salt Lake City, Utah, Friday, May 28, 2010. Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

MIDVALE — The school board members from across the state didn’t exactly grasp hands and sing "Kumbaya," but it was definitely the Robert's Rules of Order equivalent.

The Utah High School Activities Association's Board of Trustees took just two hours to reconfigure the state's 138 high schools into new classes and regions, and a unanimous vote capped an uncharacteristically jovial discussion.

It was as close to a group hug as it gets.

"I don't remember an alignment running better than this did today," said Rob Cuff, executive director for the Utah High School Activities Association. "I appreciate it. It wasn't perfect, but thank you for listening to those who had concerns."

The usual concerns surfaced as soon as schools were placed in a preliminary proposal two weeks ago — travel, preserving traditional and financially beneficial rivalries, competing against schools with similar demographics and populations, and regions that didn't contain too few or too many members. The BOT listened to principals, superintendents and athletic directors at a public hearing Wednesday night.

This realignment was different for one significant reason — football was aligned separately into six classes, while all other sports were aligned in five classifications.

Interestingly, that may have made placing schools in regions a little easier, although the discussion about how to make 1A football the most viable was significant.

Some significant changes were: Judge Memorial will now compete in 4A in all sports except football, and the Bulldogs will compete in Region 6. Hillcrest moves to 5A and will compete in a region that includes Hunter, Taylorsville, Granger, Cottonwood and West.

Payson moves to 3A in all sports except football and to 3AA in football. The Lions will compete in a region with Carbon, Juab, North Sanpete and Richfield in most sports and with the St. George schools in football.

Carbon and Canyon View were allowed to move down to 3A football with Carbon in a league with Emery, Grantsville, Judge, Morgan and Union, while Canyon View competes against Delta, Juab, Manti, North Sanpete and Richfield.

In 3AA football, the northern region will be Bear River, Ben Lomond, Juan Diego, Park City, Stansbury, Tooele and Uintah. The south region will be Cedar, Dixie, Desert Hills, Hurricane, Payson, Pine View and Snow Canyon.

1A football got a boost when BOT members moved Kanab into the south region in which Diamond Ranch, Monticello, Monument Valley and Whitehorse compete. Altamont, Duchesne, Milford and Rich make up the north region.

In 2A football, Beaver, Enterprise, Grand, North Sevier, Parowan and San Juan make up the south region, while American Leadership, Gunnison, Layton Christian, Millard, North Summit, South Summit and Summit Academy make up the north region.

Several proposals were discussed on reconfiguring 5A and 4A, but in the end only a 5A option prevailed.

It was dubbed the Jerry Haslam proposal because the Granger principal, who also sits on the BOT, presented two alignments after talking with other 5A principals. Region 1 stayed the same, but his north/south alignment changed the other three regions. Region 2 is now Cottonwood, Granger, Hillcrest, Hunter, Taylorsville and West. Region 3 is Alta, Bingham, Brighton, Copper Hills, Jordan and West Jordan. Region 4 is American Fork, Lone Peak, Pleasant Grove, Lehi, Westlake, Riverton and Herriman.

Rick Bojak, who represents the Jordan School District, tried to convince the board to keep the Jordan schools together, but they couldn't find an option that made sense as there are five Utah County schools — not enough for a separate region — and Herriman is closest to Westlake and Lehi.

The initial proposal left Riverton in a west-side Salt Lake County region and had Herriman traveling to Utah County. Haslam aligned the schools simply using addresses from north to south, which he said "eliminated politics" from the equation.

In 4A, Kearns moves from 5A to 4A and joins Region 6, which is Bountiful, Clearfield, Cyprus, Woods Cross, East and Highland in football and adds Judge in all other sports.

Washington and Iron counties were accommodated on some requests — putting Cedar back in a region with the St. George schools for all sports and moving Canyon View to 3A for football — but it means they have seven schools, and only four qualify for the playoffs. The three other non-football 3A regions will qualify four of five schools for the playoffs.

The 1A non-football regions were reconfigured after a meeting of 1A principals, and Region 17 was divided into east/west divisions. The east division is Altamont, Duchesne, Manila, Rich and Tabiona, while the west is Concordia, Legacy, Oakley and St. Joseph. Uintah River will compete in that region as an associate member.

Region 18 is made up of Dugway, ICS, Mt. Vernon, Tintic, Wendover, West Ridge (with Eskdale, Utah School for Deaf and Blind and West Desert as associate members). Region 19 is Green River, Monticello, Monument Valley, Navajo Mountain, Pinnacle and Whitehorse. Region 20 is Bryce Valley, Cross Creek, Diamond Ranch, Escalante, Milford, Panguitch, Piute, Valley and Wayne.

There may be some tweaks to 1A as they determine how playoffs will work and whether the larger regions want to divide into divisions, as well.

The alignment, other than some 1A issues, is final after Thursday's vote and goes into effect for the 2013 school year. A new group will begin the next alignment discussions in January, and they will likely look at whether to go to six classifications in all sports, an idea popular with the state's smallest schools.

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