'98 Longhorns Omitted From Decade's Top Teams

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Few will argue that Barry Sollenberger is Arizona's guru of prep sports.

The longtime sports magazine publisher and Arizona Interscholastic Association media relations director has been on the local sports scene for about as long has anyone can remember.

He says he can clearly remember the days when no one had ever heard of Mesa Mountain View High School. Tucson High was the sports terror of the state and the Sun Devils were a consistent NCAA football power.

Only recently, he published the 30th edition of Barry Sollenberger's Phoenix Metro Football Magazine which is an annual preview of college and high school sports in Phoenix and around the state including Payson.

Nationally, only Dave Campbell's Texas Football Magazine has existed longer.

This year's edition of Sollenberger's magazine picks the best players, teams, games and coaches of the 90s as well as previewing the upcoming 2000 high school season.

Although Sollenberger is highly respected, local fans might want to argue with his decision to exclude the 1998 Payson state championship team from his Class 3A top-five teams of the decade.

Sollenberger's selections are:

1. 1997 Blue Ridge (13-0)

2. 1996 Blue Ridge (13-0)

3. 1997 Arizona Boy's Ranch (12-1)

4. 1994 Blue Ridge (13-0)

5. 1995 Blue Ridge (13-0)

Leaving the '98 Payson team off that top five list might be considered a gridiron faux pas by local fans who loyally followed its accomplishments.

It's hard to understand why Sollenberger would include a once-beaten team (Arizona Boys Ranch) and leave off a team that finished 13-0 and climaxed the season with a 29-20 win over Blue Ridge. That dramatic victory put the clamps on the Yellow Jackets 64-game win streak and nailed down the state crown for the Horns.

On the way to the title there were numerous other lopsided wins in which the opposition had no sports business being on the same field with the talented Longhorns.

The Horns were clearly the best 3A team of the year and among the best of the decade, some will argue.

Although Eloy Santa Cruz is chosen to have fielded the best 2A team of the decade in 1990, St. Johns was chosen the school of the decade.

The Redskins, coached by Mike Morgan, won 84 percent of their games, three consecutive state championship and 43 games in a row.

The tiny school also produced University of Arizona All-American linebacker Marcus Bell, who now plays for the Seattle Seahawks.

Little League elections set

Payson Little League will hold a meeting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the Arizona Public Service building to elect a Board of Directors for next season. Call Stephanie Dvorak at 472-6500 for more information.

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