Pac-10 football comes to the Rim country Thursday afternoon when the Arizona State University Sun Devils begin a nine-day stay at Camp Tontozona.
Preseason practices are scheduled for 9 a.m and 4 p.m. on most days. A camp-ending scrimmage will be conducted from 9:45 a.m. to noon, Aug. 21.
Spectators are welcome at the practice sessions, which are free of charge.
Traditionally the camp-ending scrimmage attracts an overflow crowd of Devils' disciples. A few years ago, when the Devils' roster featured quarterback Jake Plummer and ASU was fresh off a visit to the Rose Bowl, it was almost impossible for fans to reach the secluded camp due to the crowds and lack of parking.
But the Sun Devils floundered to a 5-6 mark last season and it remains to be seen if the Bruce Snyder-coached Devils will attract the same throngs they have in the past.
No matter the popularity of the ASU team, a weekday visit to Camp Tontozona has long been a tradition in many Rim country families.
The camp itself is located in one of the most pristine and scenic locations in the Tonto National Forest. A morning or afternoon visit among the cool ponderosas is refreshing no matter your like or dislike of the sport.
For football fans, practice sessions can be almost as much fun as an actual game. You're much closer to the action and able to observe from the sidelines as the coaches and the players go through their paces.
Tontozona is located about 17 miles east of Payson on the south side of Highway 260. After crossing the Tonto Creek bridge, the turn into camp is one mile past the fire station. A highway sign marks the entrance. ASU has a private parking lot about 300 yards from the gate. From the lot it is only a short walk to the practice field.
If the camp-ending scrimmage attracts the fans it has in the past, expect to park along the highway at least a mile from the camp. That is, unless you arrive very, very early.
Preseason practice sessions in the four fall sports at Payson High School began Monday morning. Girls' soccer coach Linda Gibson said her team will not be practicing during the afternoon hours, as the boys' team is during the first week. Rather, the Lady Horns are practicing from 6 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. at Rumsey Park. Call 474-2233 for more information.
A "Tee Hee" golf tournament to benefit the Payson Youth Organization will be held Sept. 18 at Payson Golf Course. The event tees off at 11:30 a.m. In the four-person, best-ball scramble format, the only clubs needed will be a driver, 7 iron and putter.
A dinner and dance will follow with raffles for prizes, including a Caribbean cruise and trips to Las Vegas. Registration is $40. Dinner and dance tickets are $20.
Entry forms are available at Payson Town Hall, the Payson library, grocery stores, Walgreens and from other local merchants. Call 474-9314 for more information.