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The Pygmy Owl Might Just Lead Amphi To A Championship In 2003.

A BRIEF CHRONOLOGY as to how the Amphi Panther football team came to win the 2003 5A state championship game by the score of 84-0.

December 1997: Amphi High, with a 35-man squad, loses a heartbreaking 28-24 decision to Mesa Mountain View in the Class 5A state finals at ASU. It's a match-up of the largest school in the state (Mt. View has 4,000 students in three grades) and the smallest public school in the 5A division (Amphi hovers around 1,750).

(A few 5A Catholic schools have fewer students than Amphi, but, not bound by recruitment rules, they can basically go out and buy ballplayers, so their enrollment figures are misleading.)

Amphi Coach Vern Friedli, when asked about the enrollment disparity, shrugs, "Hey, it might be nice to have 4,000 kids but as long as I get 30 kids who play as hard as my kids played tonight, I'll be happy."

June 1998: Concerned about the fate of a pygmy owl that nests near Amphi property, environmental activists find a federal judge who grants them an injunction stopping school construction.

July 1999: After much turmoil, the Amphi School Board decides to build the school elsewhere. They settle on two possible sites: one way the heck up there in Catalina and the other in Oro Valley. In a move that is far more self-serving than altruistic, the Town of Oro Valley offers to kick in $1.5 million to help buy the land for the Oro Valley location.

Later in July 1999: A screaming bunch of NIMBY idiots shows up to the school board meeting to protest the Oro Valley site, claiming that a school will cause (gasp!) traffic.

The Chief Idiot claims that the area is full of unexplored archaeological sites. He cites one in particular which he says contains the well-preserved fossilized remains of several people in some sort of ritual around an ancient cistern.

It later turns out to have been Gladys Nussbaum, formerly of Bayonne, New Jersey, hosting a pool party for some friends at Sun City Vistoso.

August 1999: Canyon Del Oro High School opens the school year severely overcrowded. Built for 2,400 students, it's now well over 3000.

September 1999: The Chief Idiot gets another judge to grant an injunction halting construction until the archaeological sites can be explored.

April 2000: When no archaeological sites can be identified, the Chief Idiot sues to force the Amphi District to hire experts to find some. Explains the Idiot: "I just know they're out there somewhere. But I'm not an archaeologist; I have a master's in French literature. And since I'm unemployed, I can't afford to keep looking. The district owes it to those kids not to build a school where there might be an arrowhead or something."

August 2000: The overcrowding at CDO forces the Board to shift the boundary line between Amphi and CDO northward from Orange Grove to Ina. A self-proclaimed Christian who lives in the affected area sues the Board because she doesn't want her kids to have to go to Amphi High where they will be forced to "associate with the Spanish and those dreadful Negroes."

August 2001: The line is again shifted northward, this time to Magee. CDO freshmen students are attending classes in a tent city set up at Dennis Weaver Park, while Amphi High is starting to show signs of overcrowding. Parents at both schools sue.

November 2001: The Board announces it will build the new school on the Catalina site. A group of Oro Valley parents file a lawsuit, claiming it's just not fair for upper-middle-class kids to have to ride in a bus.

Pundits now refer to the district as AM-FI, which stands for "Another Mother-F***in' Injunction!"

June 2002: The Board says the line this coming school year will be Calle Concordia, meaning that kids living across the street from CDO will be bused to Amphi.

August 2002: Within weeks, the entire Amphi School Board has been recalled and replaced with angry Oro Valley white folk. The newly redrawn CDO attendance area looks like it was gerrymandered by a California Democrat. An attendance cap of 2,200 is set at CDO. All others outside the donut hole, including those who live near the Pinal County line to the north and Marana to the west, will be bused to Amphi High, which is forced to go on double session. Lawsuits fly and transportation costs increase tenfold.

January 2003: All efforts to build a new high school are dropped by the Board when it becomes public that 37 percent of the district's budget is going to fight lawsuits. Amphi High's enrollment passes the 5,000 mark. The former Amphi Middle School has been commandeered and is serving as a freshman campus.

December 2003: Amphi High wins its second-straight state 5A football championship. It marks the 22nd straight trip to the state playoffs for the once-undermanned Panthers and the 22nd 5A-South crown in Coach Friedli's 27 years at the school.

In the finals, Amphi beats Mesa Mt. View, 84-0, with all 98 members of the Panther squad seeing playing time. The next day in the Arizona Republic, angry Mt. View fans complain, "It's not fair. They have more students than we do."

Then the Mt. View Booster Club takes the only course of action available to them: they sue the Amphi School Board.

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