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Beaver and Duchesne compete in the 2A football championship game at Dixie State University in St. George on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

5A expands to 5 regions, 1A football returns under new UHSAA realignment cycle for 2021-23

By Sean Walker, KSL.com | Posted - Dec. 17, 2020 at 6:21 p.m.



MIDVALE — Changes are coming to high school sports under the new two-year realignment cycle after the Utah High School Activities Association board of trustees approved Thursday a new set of regions beginning with the 2021-22 school year.

Among the biggest changes are Class 5A expanding to five regions, and Roy High School moving from 6A Region 1 to Region 2 for the upcoming realignment cycle.

The Royals' move was sparked by the school's administrators, community members and the Weber School District. While the football program regularly finished at or near the top of Region 1, which is comprised of schools in Weber and Davis counties, the other programs haven't been as successful and feature more comparable demographics to Region 2 schools like Taylorsville, Kearns and West in participation numbers and other socioeconomic indicators.

Roy could move back to Region 1 in 2023, when the next realignment cycle will begin. But for now, the school's decision did not trigger dissent from either the association or the school and district's administrations.

"There wasn't a lot of feedback or dissenting opposition to it," UHSAA assistant director Jon Oglesby said, "so if Roy wanted to move to Region 2, why not make that decision?"

The new region in 5A will be a central-based Region 7, consisting of Cedar Valley, Hillcrest, Mountain View, Payson, Stansbury, Timpanogos, Tooele and Uintah in football, with Cottonwood replacing Timpanogos in all other sports.

Cedar Valley, Mountain View, Stansbury and Tooele were on track to move up to 5A, and Payson and Timpanogos opted to move their football programs from an independent schedule to move into that league for competitive and geographic balance. Cottonwood is currently scheduled to remain independent in football, along with rural schools Whitehorse and Monument Valley.

"We had a number of board members who had done a lot of work speaking with schools, and came to the realization that those schools were very interested in moving to 5A and coming up with this region with parity competitively," Oglesby said. "The board members had already done the work, and came up with a proposal that when presented to the entirety of the board was fairly easy to accept because the districts were on board with it."

As such, the former Region 7 — Alta, Orem, Lehi, Jordan and Timpview — will now be known as Region 8, with Mountain View participating in all sports but football, as well. The former Region 8 of Provo, Wasatch and schools from Nebo School District will be known as Region 9.

The association was also given a mandate to reconsider the classifying of schools in the current geography-based region model. In the era where all schools qualify for the playoffs and are seeded by an intricate RPI system, the old model of regions is becoming outdated, several schools argued.

Also beginning with the 2021-23 realignment cycle, the association will reintroduce Class 1A football with a North and South division in both 1A and 2A. Beaver won state titles each of the last two seasons in the combined Class 2A, and will lead the 2A South division as it spins off Enterprise, Gunnison, Kanab, Milford, North Sevier and Parowan into 1A.

With the split, the bottom four classifications will be contained to two divisions each of six or seven teams, including a 13-team 4A divided between Region 10 in the south and Region 11 in the north. Several schools also moved down to 3A, including Ogden and Ben Lomond, which shuffled the lower classifications.

"With 3A growing this year, it made sense from the initial considerations because there was a more viable 1A classification in football," Oglesby said. "I think it was mainly the way the numbers fell; there was a competitive 1A league that had good parity in it."

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Sean Walker

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