Yuma Catholic football coach Rhett Stallworth wants to spend a Friday night on the visitors sideline at Yuma High.
A former Criminal himself, Stallworth wants to be on the other side when the police car drives out onto Doan Field before the game.
Stallworth said that he's talked with Yuma High coach Curt Weber about squaring off and Weber has expressed interest.
However, the two teams won't be playing each other this season.
“My schedule is set for two years,” Yuma High athletic director Rachel Eggers said. “Honestly, I'm done talking about it. The schedule is done.”
Stallworth has let it be known that he'd be interested in playing against any of the bigger Yuma schools.
The schedules for this upcoming season, to be made public July 3, have been set and Yuma High — along with Cibola, Gila Ridge, Kofa and San Luis — will not play the Shamrocks. However, there's a bylaw for the Arizona Interscholastic Association that allows a team with 10 games to add an additional game against an opponent so long as it fills out their opponent's schedule and is approved by the AIA.
The Shamrocks are currently slated for nine games in 2013.
One solution would be for the teams to play a Week Zero game a week before the teams' first scheduled games — in which it would likely be the only football show in town that Friday. Even with the extra contest, Yuma High would still only have 10 games counted toward its power points.
However, Eggers said there are other aspects to worry about.
“We're not playing that game because it's not in the best interest of our kids, health and safety-wise,” she said about starting a week earlier. “We don't need to play the game, so we're not going to play it.”
The Friday of Week Zero this season is on Aug. 23. A year ago, Yuma High opened up the season against San Luis on Aug. 24.
Last season, the Criminals finished 2-8. They have not made the state tournament since the 2005 AIA 5A Division I playoffs under Stallworth. In 2012, the Criminals' 15-14 win over El Centro-Southwest — which finished 2-8 on the season — was the first victory over anybody other than San Luis or Kofa since their 61-21 win over Gila Ridge midway through the 2009 season, the first full season of football for the Hawks.
One possible effect of a potential game between the Criminals and Shamrocks would be the creation of some community interest for the Criminals' rebuilding program — not to mention the financial draw. According to Stallworth, when the Shamrocks and Kofa played for four years from 2007 to 2010, it was a major fiscal triumph.
“We had a lot of financial success with those games,” he said. “We did really well at the gate and really well with concessions. Back when we played Kofa, we made considerable more gate money than we did with anybody else. The whole community wants to see these games and if it generates interest, revenue and all that, I think that's a shot in the arm that I think all sports programs need.”
District athletic director Kevin Gettings said money made at the gates from ticket sales at Yuma High and the other district schools is spread across the district — meaning the other schools would benefit from a potential meeting, too. Yuma High, however, would pocket the proceeds from concessions and other sales.
Since football is a major moneymaker for schools when it comes to athletics, other sports at Yuma High could benefit from a potential meeting between the two programs.
“It's not about the money,” Eggers said. “My schedule is set for the next two years. The schedule is done.”
Eggers did say the Criminals could possibly schedule the Shamrocks down the road.
If the Yuma Catholic football team were to move up to Division II, it would be automatically scheduled with the bigger in-town teams, but the Shamrocks would have a significantly smaller enrollment than other schools at that level.
“Am I willing to play five games at that division? Sure,” Stallworth said. “Am I willing to play 10 games at that division? Not with 260 kids on campus.”
Starting in the fall, at the behest of the Yuma Union High School District, Yuma High, Cibola, Kofa, San Luis and Kofa are all dropping down to Division II. This was in part to cut down on travel costs because the AIA was making teams automatically schedule within their own division and section. Since Cibola, Kofa and San Luis were Division I and Gila Ridge and Yuma High were Division II, it meant more travel since all the teams weren't grouped together in the same section.
In January, Gettings said if they were placed in different sections, the travel costs would skyrocket.
While those five schools have varied number of enrollment, Gettings said at the time of the reclassification, “in a perfect world everybody would like to be in where their population shows, but financially we just can't do that right now. Unfortunately, that's where it's at.”
Stallworth argues that's partly why it makes sense for a town like Yuma to schedule as many games as it can within the city.
“Anytime you play local teams, your gate receipts and concession money go way up compared to playing out-of-town teams. That's a given. Yuma Catholic would love to play anybody they can locally.”