Judging from the nice-sized crowd that braved Saturday's rodeo parade traffic in Payson to attend Arizona State University's camp-ending scrimmage at Tontozona , Devils' disciples are ready to forgive the football team for last year's disastrous 5-6 finish.
Fans from around the state flocked to the mountain retreat for the more than two-hour intrasquad scrimmage that featured very little offense but some spirited defensive play. The offense scored only two touchdowns in nine possessions and the Devil "D" recorded three quarterback sacks.
Tailback J.R. Redmond, a Heisman Trophy hopeful, did not play in the scrimmage, but was the object of loads of attention from both fans and media.
Starting quarterback Ryan Kealy, a Phoenix St. Mary's product, played just one series of downs.
Defensive back Willie Daniel, who was in Payson last January as a special guest of the Copper State Jam junior high school basketball tournament, is obviously going to be a good college player who might someday play on Sundays.
Another player familiar to Rim country football fans was ASU's starting left guard, Levi Jones. The 6-foot, 6-inch, 300-pound sophomore prepped at Eloy Santa Cruz, where he was the Dust Devils' Athlete of the Year in 1997.
In addition to starting as a football player at Eloy, Jones excelled in basketball, baseball and track. In a basketball game against Chandler Seton he scored 25 points, corralled 21 rebounds and -- believe it or not -- blocked 13 shots.
As a freshman at ASU, Jones was an honorable mention PAC-10 All-Academic selection.
Following Saturday's scrimmage, the team and coaches boarded four charter buses and returned to the Tempe campus to begin one-a-day preparations for the season opener Sept. 6 against Texas Tech.
Devils fans are hoping that the team's stay east of Payson served as a catalyst to regaining the glory days of the Devils, when the team advanced to the Rose and Sun Bowls.
Pin busters unite
Fall leagues are now forming at Payson Bowl. Mixed leagues will compete Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. The ladies' leagues are scheduled for 10 a.m. on Tuesday and the men's at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. The senior leagues bowl at 1 p.m. on Mondays and at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Thursdays.
Call Shirley at 474-9589 for more information.
Don't forget: The defending state champion Longhorn football team will make its 1999 debut at 4 p.m. Friday on PHS field against Tuba City. The clash is a preseason controlled scrimmage.
There is no admission for the contest, but don't expect an all-out game. It's a scrimmage only and no score is kept. Coaches are allowed on the field and there are no kickoffs or punt returns.
Tuba City is no Blue Ridge, but the battle should give fans a good look at the Longhorn team.