There are whispers among local fans and others across the statethat this year's Payson High football team might not be as successful as last season's state championship squad due to the graduation of such standouts as Cable Morris, Josh Barnhart, Marc Bennett, Ryan Lorentz, Hunter Walden and others.
Losing those players was a huge blow, but make no mistake: the current group of seniors is very talented -- maybe as solid as any senior class in Class 3A football.
The real strength of this team is that many of the players have been together since their participation in what was then the Northern Arizona Youth Football Association.
Since they first slipped on shoulder pads, this group of seniors has been on a victory roll.
Building on their success in the NAYFA, where they were exposed to some excellent coaching, the Class of 2000 lost only one game as Rim Country Middle School seventh-graders. In 1995, the players capped an undefeated season with a White Mountain League Championship. The WML is the junior high equivalent of the high school East Division, which Payson will play this season.
As freshmen, the Class of 2000 finished the year 7-0-1 with the only blemish being a controversial tie to Wickenburg.
The following year, when they were sophomores, the group formed the nucleus of an undefeated jayvee team that steamrolled opponents by 20- and 30-point victory margins.
Last season, when they were juniors, the players were instrumental in the varsity Longhorns' march to an undefeated 13-0 year and the state championship.
Most of the teen-agers understand the sacrifices it takes to succeed in football and will step up once the going gets tough.
Fans shouldn't sell this team short.
Pat Heizer and her group of dedicated PHS wrestlerettes will host a benefit steak dinner from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday in the main ramada at Rumsey Park. The menu is barbecued steak, beans, potato, salad and beverage. The cost is only $5 for adults and $3 per child. All proceeds will benefit the wrestlerettes.
The dinner represents a golden opportunity for mom's night away from the kitchen. Stop by Rumsey, have dinner, then show up at Longhorn Stadium for the 7 p.m. season opener against Safford.
Good meal, good football -- what could be better?
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 10 a.m. on Thursdays. Call Shirley at 474-9589 for more information.
Price cut on discount cards
Payson Little League has an abundance of "Discount Cards" left over from the spring fund-raiser. In addition to two-for-one dinner offers and movie rentals, other businesses are offering free flat repairs, free personal training and various discounts on merchandise and services.
Last spring, the cards sold for $5. While they last, they are available for $3 or four for $10.
Call Stephanie Dvorak at 472-6500 or stop by Metro Funding at 200 W. Frontier, Suite 5 for your cards.