White Mountain League fall sports action tipped off Thursday for Rim Country Middle School Maverick football and softball teams after three weeks of tedious preseason conditioning sessions.
Both eighth-grade squads hosted the Winslow Junior High School Bullpups in 3 p.m. encounters on the PHS football and softball fields. The seventh-grade teams traveled to Winslow. (Game results were not available at press time).
The Mavericks continue league action Sept 2. when the eighth-graders travel to Snowflake and the seventh-grade teams play in Payson. Game times are 3 p.m.
On the eighth-grade level, PHS social studies teacher Bob Hoyt heads the Maverick football program and Gary Ritter the softball team.
Hoyt, who last season coached the seventh-grade football team to a 5-1 record, is assisted by former Longhorn football standout Chris Harold. Harold, a former student at Northern Arizona University, is slated to soon do his student teaching at Payson High.
Ritter, an RCMS special education teacher, had only nine girls turn out for the Mav softball team when preseason drills opened. Early this week two more players came out to help fill the void. Until the additional pair of athletes showed up, the coach reluctantly considered bringing two players up to the eighth-grade squad from the seventh-grade team.
"That's something I didn't want to do," he said.
PHS automotive shop teacher Doug Eckhardt, an assistant to Hoyt last year, heads the seventh-grade football team.
For seventh-grade softball, RCMS sixth-grade teacher Sherri Brennen -- a high school softball assistant during the spring --is serving as the head coach. Former Longhorn softball standout Molly Hunt, who played last season for Mesa College, assists.
In addition to football and softball, RCMS will be fielding a cross country team for the first time.
Ellie Hardt, a former Payson High School track and basketball star, is coaching the team, which has about 15 participants.
A schedule has not yet been finalized but Hardt hopes to have about four meets, including one during the Oct. 8 homecoming festivities when Payson High School's "Sludge to the Judge" run is held on Main Street.
7th and 8th Grade Football
Aug. 26: Winslow at Rim Country
Sept. 2: Rim Country at Snowflake
Sept. 9: Rim Country at St. Johns
Sept. 14: Rim Country at Show Low
Sept. 16: Rim Country at Glassford Hill
Sept. 23: Capps at Rim Country
Sept. 30: Rim Country at Holbrook
Oct. 5: Whiteriver at Rim Country
8th Grade Tournament
Sept. 18: at Rim Country, Teams: Snowflake, Show Low, Winslow, and Capps
7th Grade Tournament
Sept. 25: at Round Valley, Teams: St. Johns, Joseph City, Capps and Rim Country
Oct. 7: First Round playoffs: 6 vs 11,7 vs 10 & 8 vs 9 at Highest Seed
Oct. 9: White Mountain League tournament at Blue Ridge