The Payson Minor Cardinals entry in the Central Arizona Youth Football Association steamrolled through the past season undefeated (8-0), only to lose heart-breaking 14-12 decision to the Prescott Bobcats in the association championships.
Coach Mark Henning says the only difference in the two teams was that Payson was unable to score its extra points and Prescott converted successfully.
The loss didn't put a damper on the enthusiasm of the team members, its coaches or the cheerleaders.
All say they are eagerly looking forward to next season when many of the current players will return to the Cardinal team.
In a special cheerleader competition at the championship games played Saturday in Camp Verde, the Cardinal spirit line took third place.
The Payson Youth Organization, formed in March of 1999, has set as a goal "to involve every child in our communities in sporting activities by financially assisting those eligible families who are unable to provide registration fees, equipment and other sports-related cost for their children."
Last week, the PYO distributed fliers in the local schools explaining to parents and young athletes what they need to do to acquire funds for sports participation.
If your family's flier didn't reach home, more application forms are available in the offices of the local elementary and middle schools.
According to PYO officials, financial support will be awarded on a "most needed" basis. All applications will be confidential and the applicant's name will not be used for any other purpose.
The mission of the PYO appears to be almost exactly the same as that of the Payson Rodeo Committee, which for many years purchased sports equipment and paid fees for young athletes in need.
Many a local coach has turned to the rodeo committee to ensure that a youngster received the financial backing to participate in sports.
Years ago, a young teenager received what was probably his first pair of brand spankin' new football shoes thanks to a contribution from the rodeo committee. After proudly lacing them tightly around his ankles, the young freshman charged onto the field with unbridled enthusiasm. He went on to have a pretty darn good academic and athletic career at Payson High School. Today, I'm told, he continues to do well building a successful career of his own.
Long way to travel
Last year, coach Randy Wilcox's PHS boys' basketball team made the five-hour trip north to Kayenta to take on Monument Valley in a non-divisional Class 3A match. After returning in the wee hours of the morning, the players bemoaned the arduous bus ride.
Monument Valley will return the traveling favor by journeying to Payson Nov. 20 for a season-opening scrimmage. The game time has not yet been set.
Longhorn teams spend many hours on the road traveling to Whiteriver, Alchesay, St. Johns and Eagar, but the jaunts pale in comparison to the jaunts the reservation teams, like Monument Valley, are forced to travel.
And most of those trips are on reservation roads which can test the mettle of passengers and drivers alike.
A bus ride to Payson might be a drive around the block for the MV team.
As part of the Arizona Game and Fish Urban Fishing program, Green Valley Lakes are stocked with trout from October through May. All Arizona Game and Fish regulations for fishing are in effect. Anyone 14-years of age or older must present a valid Arizona Urban fishing license with a trout stamp. Bag limits are four fish per day or two per day for children younger than 14. For more information visit the AG&F Web Site at: www.gf.state.az.us.