With Payson School District students and teachers set to begin classes tomorrow (Wednesday), sport practices will return to the normal after-school sessions to which veteran athletes are more accustomed.
All four fall sports teams at Payson High -- football, volleyball, cross country and soccer -- kicked off preseason practices Aug. 9, the first day Arizona Interscholastic Association regulations allow Class 3A schools to begin.
Throughout the first week, the defending state champion Longhorn football squad engaged in two-a-day sessions. Coach Jim Beall often separated the team into two groups, linemen and backs, so more specialized coaching could occur. The freshmen practiced once a day.
Coach Linda Gibson's Lady Longhorn soccer team, about 14 strong, practiced each morning at 6:30.
With the beginning of classes and the return to after-school practices, Gibson says she hopes more girls will be available to try out for the team.
The boys' soccer team won't have to adjust its practice hours once school begins. Coach Dave Greiner has been putting the team through its paces during the traditional afternoon sessions.
Cross country, however, will have to make the switch from morning to afternoon. During the opening week, coach Chuck Hardt drilled his 21 athletes beginning at 9 a.m. each day at Rumsey Park.
Like Gibson, Hardt is hoping more cross country prospects try out for the team.
The football team was originally scheduled to open the 1999 campaign Aug. 27 in a preseason controlled scrimmage against Glendale. However, Glendale backed out of the commitment and the Horns are left without a foe.
Coach Jim Beall says he's hoping an opponent can be found, but if not, an intrasquad scrimmage will be held either Aug. 27 or 28.
The season opens Sept. 3 against Safford. Kickoff time is 7 p.m. in Longhorn stadium.
The Lady Longhorn volleyball squad debuts at 7 p.m. Aug. 31 in Wilson Dome against Chino Valley. The varsity contest will be preceded by 4:30 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. freshmen and jayvee games.
Both the boys' and girls' soccer teams begin regular season play Sept. 1 in Eagar against the Round Valley Elks. Games are set for 3 p.m. (jayvee boys), 5 p.m. (varsity girls) and 7 p.m. (varsity boys).
The cross country teams spring into action Sept. 4 at the Peaks Invitational in Flagstaff. Start time has yet to be determined, but Hardt expects it to tip off during the late morning hours.