Editor's note: This is the second of a three part series regarding the future classification of sports at Camp Verde and Sedona Red Rock high schools.
In the early 1990s, sports at Camp Verde High School were in their prime.
Then the 1995-96 season came, and the tide turned.
That was the year the student body enrollment rose well above the 449 cutoff mark for 2A, forcing a move to Class 3A.
Before the move, Camp Verde was experiencing much success on the field. In 1995 the baseball team captured its first state title. The softball team was state runner-up to Kearny Ray, and the girls track team took first in team competition.
A year prior, the boys soccer team won state.
Camp Verde was the Fountain Hills of the 2A North — a bigger school competing against small clubs.
Times have sure changed.
The track team's last successful state campaign came in 1997. The softball team, a regular in the state finals, has not been back. In fact, the only program that has been successful in the state tournament has been the girls soccer team — a state title in 2000 and two runners-up trophies — and last year’s wrestling team, which took first.
What happened? Was it the move to 3A? Did the competition just get better?
Those are the questions that Mark Showers, the athletic director for CVHS, is trying to answer.
Showers is currently examining the benefits of staying in 3A or moving to 2A for the 2005-06 school year. Since the Arizona Interscholastic Association passed a new by-law concerning classification, a school that is on the enrollment bubble can petition either up or down a class. That will be important for the school as it enters October, the cutoff date for enrollment numbers.
Camp Verde will likely fall short of the 450 mark, meaning it will be slated to start the following year in 2A. If the numbers don't drop, the school could remain in its current class.
Traveling was the first and foremost concern for the high school concerning a possible move, however, the competition has to be worthwhile.
"Right now we're good enough to be competitive (in 3A), and by being competitive we've been able to get to the state playoffs in most sports," Showers said. "The problem is we lose in the first round."
If Camp Verde were to return to the 2A ranks, could teams go deeper into the state tournament? It's possible, but a lack of solid competition in region play may hinder that.
In 3A, the Cowboys play in one of the weakest regions in the state. That doesn't help prepare them for the big dance toward the end of the season. The 3A South, based on tradition, is dominant in baseball and softball while the North rules the basketball courts. The West has few teams that even advance to the final four.
Going to 2A could have the same effect. Camp Verde likely would become part of the North Region with schools like Many Farms, Mayer, Red Mesa, Rough Rock, St. Johns, Valley Sanders and Williams. Competitiveness there is rare.
Camp Verde may win more region titles, but it could also repeat the "one-and-done" scenario at state.
There is a point, however, where 2A and 3A meet. Teams in the 2A Metro, specifically Phoenix, Northwest, Scottsdale and Valley Christian, are private schools that are frequent visitors in the state playoffs. In most sports, those schools are better than 3A teams, despite the numbers.
"Will we win state titles every year? Probably not. That's not the idea," Showers said. "We want the level of competition to be similar. Arguably, the 2A private schools are just as good, and sometimes better, than 3A schools."
According to Showers, the decision the Cowboys must make in the coming months is not as black and white as it appears. Sure, Camp Verde won a lot of games — and a few state titles — in 2A.
What Showers wants to do is return to that level of status CVHS achieved in the 1990s, but moving down to 2A might not be the answer.