The 2000 prep sports season kicked up Monday for Payson High School athletes participating in four sports soccer, cross county, football and volleyball.
Under the tutelage of first-year head coach Mike Wheelis, candidates for the freshman, jayvee and varsity team turned out at 8 a.m. for the beginning of the often-dreaded two-a-day drills that will continue until Friday. Sessions are held from 8 a.m. to noon and again from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Like football, boys' soccer has a new head coach in PHS alumni Byron Quinlan. The rookie replaces former coach Dave Greiner who resigned last fall after leading the Longhorns to the state semifinals.
The new coach is putting his team through their paces from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Rumsey Park multi-purpose field.
Lady Longhorn soccer coach Linda Gibson, fresh off a sports/cultural tour of Australia, is practicing her charges from 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. also at Rumsey Park.
In girls' volleyball, players are practicing daily from 8 a.m. until noon in Wilson Dome. Tomorrow (Wednesday), coaches Sue Weems and Krystal Garvin will conduct tryouts to select the jayvee and varsity team members.
Cross country coach Chuck Hardt, last year's East Division Coach of the Year, is practicing his team daily from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Rumsey Park.
Beginning Aug. 14, coaches in all fall sports will begin holding the traditional weekday after-school practices at 3:30 p.m. and lasting about two hours.
Any PHS student who wishes to participate and has not turned out for the pre-season sessions should do so immediately or risk not earning a spot on the roster, coaches say.
Also, new Payson High School Athletic Director Dave Bradley warns that before any student can participate in a practice, the athlete must have on file in his office a current physical exam and parent consent form. Once all the paperwork is taken care of, Bradley will issue athletes a "blue card" which shows their eligibility to play.
The football team will be the first PHS squad to make its 2000 debut at a preseason scrimmage set for 3 p.m. Aug. 25 in Tuba City.
The scrimmage will allow the coaching staff the opportunity to evaluate the players in game-like conditions. Although the contest is conducted similar to a traditional Friday night clash, no score is to be kept and there are no kick off or punt returns.
Also, coaches are allowed on the field and can stop play to give instruction.
The 2000 campaign kicks off in earnest at 7 p.m. Sept. 1 in Safford.
The girls volleyball team plays its season opener Aug. 29 in Chino Valley. Game times are 4:30 p.m. (freshman), 5:30 p.m. (jayvee) and (6:30 p.m. (varsity). The team opens at home Aug. 31 against Globe.
Game times are also 4 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
The only Longhorn team to have a home opener on its schedule is the soccer team which hosts Round Valley Aug. 30 at Rumsey Park. Game times are 3 p.m. (jayvee boys) 5 p.m. (varsity girls) and 7 p.m. (varsity boys).
Hardt will take his cross country crew to Flagstaff Sept. 2 where the team will participate in the highly competitive Peaks Invitational.
The meet annually draws some of the best teams from the talented northern Arizona reservation schools that usually go on to dominate the Class 3A state championships.
On Sept. 6, the CC team plays the role of host at the Payson Invitational.
Start time has yet to be determined.
Complete PHS sports schedules will be published in the Aug. 15 edition of the Payson Roundup.