American Leadership Queen Creek being bumped up to 6A football in AIA placements

American Leadership Academy head coach Ty Detmer leads his team from the sidlines against Higley on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022.
American Leadership Academy head coach Ty Detmer leads his team from the sidlines against Higley on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022.

For a third year in a row, American Leadership Queen Creek's football team is being elevated a conference, this time to the top.

The Arizona Interscholastic Association released its initial placement of schools on Thursday evening for the 2023 high school football season. The most eye-popping move is the charter school's move up to 6A.

After capturing the 3A title in 2019, ALA Queen Creek moved up to 4A in 2020, and reached the Open Division playoffs. The Patriots got moved up to 5A this year, and, again, reached the eight-team Open playoffs, a bracket that the AIA began in 2019 to promote the top eight teams among the big-school conferences in 6A, 5A and 4A.

The Patriots were eliminated from the Open in the first round this past season and last year. As the No. 7 seed, they lost to eventual champion Chandler Basha 31-25 in the Open this year, after falling to Chandler Hamilton in the first round last year.

That was the only move of a school from 5A to 6A by the AIA's reclassification committee.

"No comment at this point," ALA QC football coach and Athletic Director Ty Detmer said in a text to The Arizona Republic. "That should tell you how we feel."

Schools have until Jan. 5 to appeal their placements with the AIA.

Sister school ALA Gilbert North, fresh off the 4A championship, also got bumped up. It is placed in 5A by the AIA for next football season after beating Snowflake 28-14 for the 4A crown. Both Snowflake and ALA Gilbert North were promoted from 3A after last year.

“We are excited!!” ALA Gilbert North coach Randy Ricedorff said in a text. “We look forward to competing at a  higher level. The competition will drive us to truly maximize our potential.”

Mesa Eastmark, after capturing its first 3A title, has been placed in 4A. Eastmark is part of the Queen Creek district, which has been expanding due to population growth.

Gilbert Higley, which benefited from the move down from 6A, is remaining in 5A, after beating Glendale Cactus for the championship.

The AIA every year, just for football, places schools in conferences, based on the success or struggles of the teams. There is an AIA reclassification committee that helps with the placements. A 2.0 variant was used this year to place schools for football.

Three 6A teams — Avondale Westview, Mesa Dobson and Yuma Cibola — have been placed in the 5A Conference.

After moving up a conference this year, both Gilbert Mesquite (from 5A to 4A) and Phoenix Arizona Lutheran (3A to 2A) were placed back in the conferences they excelled at during the 2021 season.

Pima captured the 2A championship with a win over Morenci, but it is staying in 2A, while Morenci was moved up to 3A. This was the second straight year Morenici played in the 2A final. In 2021, Morenci lost to Arizona Lutheran in the championship game.

Arizona Lutheran is moving back down to 2A, after going 5-5 in 3A. That was coming off the school's first 11-man state championship in 2A in 2021.

In other moves:

- Gilbert Christian is back up in 3A, after going 9-3 and reaching the 2A quarterfinals each of the past two seasons. Gilbert Christian went 4-3 in the COVID-reduced 2020 season, playing in 3A. This was a school-requested move that was endorsed by the reclassification committee.

- Yuma Kofa, which was once in the biggest conference, is moving down from 4A to 3A.

-Parker is back down to 2A after playing last season in 3A and going 2-8. In the 2021 season, Parker ended up with the top seed in the 2A playoffs after going 10-0 in the regular season. The Broncs' season ended in a 39-14 semifinal loss to Morenci that year.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: ALA Queen Creek being bumped up to 6A football in AIA placements