For most prep football coaches, homecoming games are major pains in the backsides. Oh, some may not admit it for fear of offending alumni and students who often relish the week-long festivities.
But, coaches face a unique set of challenges and obstacles in preparing their players for a homecoming clash.
With five days of hoopla going on, it's difficult to keep players focused on the task at hand to win a football game.
Rather, the players' attention is on parades, royalty contests, pep rallies, float building, dances and the myriad of other homecoming festivities.
As a former coach at Show Low High School, I vividly remember having to charge onto the field at halftime to pull our starting quarterback into the locker room for an all-important strategy session.
Seems the QB had been elected homecoming king and was spending the precious minutes of halftime on top of a float with his arms wrapped around the newly crowned queen.
After coaxing the player into the locker for halftime adjustments, I was soundly booed by the homecoming crowd.
Because of the distractions, coaches and athletic directors usually search out rag-tag teams to schedule as their school's homecoming foe. A visiting high school team that finds itself playing in a host of homecoming games is most often a group that doesn't have much chance of getting out of town with a "W."
When Payson school officials went looking for a 2000 homecoming foe and came up with Alchesay, it looked like a wise choice. After all, the Falcons are not one of the premier teams in the state and only rarely do they field a winning team.
The community of Whiteriver, where the high school is housed, is a hotbed of basketball not football.
Despite the fact Alchesay was pummeled 41-8 by Snowflake last Friday, tonight's homecoming game against the Falcons could turn into a much stiffer challenge than first thought.
Not so much because Alchesay brings a Packers-like offense and defense to Payson. But rather, the Falcons could be a formidable foe due to the recent struggles of the Longhorns.
After a 2-0 start, the Horns have lost back-to-back to St. Johns 14-7 and Round Valley 28-7. In both losses, Payson struggled to generate an offense that could consistently move the ball.
Only in wins over lowly Safford (22-6) and Canyon State Academy (53-0) were the Horns able to crank up their power-option offense.
If Alchesay coaches have watched game films from St. Johns and Round Valley, they could have uncovered some of the schemes it takes to stall the Payson "O".
If, however, the Horns can muster the will of a junk-yard dog and whip the Falcons, it could prove to be the catalyst to a reasonably successful season.
It's a homecoming game, but it should be a good one.
Kick off is 7 p.m. in Payson's Longhorn Stadium.