The east valley football scene has a decidedly Payson look to it.
At the newly built Higley High, former Longhorn football coach Jim Beall is heading up the school's inaugural football team.
At nearby Queen Creek High School, former Longhorn assistant coach Curt LeBlanc has taken over the program after a two-year stint as head coach at River Valley.
Former PHS coach Dan Dunn, who is partially retired as a teacher at Mesa College, is set to continue as the offensive coordinator at Class 5A defending state champion Mesa Red Mountain.
At PHS in 1998, Beall led the Longhorns to an undefeated season and the school's second state football championship.
At the conclusion of the season, LeBlanc who had been Beall's offensive coordinator and tutored under Dunn left to take over at River Valley.
Beall stayed on at PHS for another year after LeBlanc's departure, but resigned in 1999 after a tiff with the administration. Last spring, he accepted the Higley coaching position.
Since Queen Creek will be moving to 3A from 2A and Higley is a first-year 3A school, Beall and LeBlanc will find themselves on opposite sides of the field this season.
If the two schools, and Payson under first-year coach Steve Saban, turn in banner seasons and advance to the state playoffs, there is a chance Beall and LeBlanc could see gridiron warfare against their former team. That would make a very interesting scenario.
Over at Mesa Red Mountain, Dunn the Horns' head coach from 1992 to 1994 will assist longtime friend and head coach Jimmy Jones in his efforts to lead the Mountain Lions to a second successive state championship.
Considering he got a late start, newly-appointed PHS boys basketball coach Mike Loutzenheiser did a commendable job at putting together a summer boys basketball program.
Loutzenheiser didn't receive the head coaching nod until late in the spring, so he had to scramble to schedule the summer program.
The Payson summer invitational that had traditionally drawn many of the Class 5A powers, including Mesa Mountain View, was scrapped, much to the chagrin of those schools' players and coaches.
"We loved coming to Payson. It was a tradition for us," Tucson Amphitheater coach Pat Derksen said.
At the last minute, Loutzenheiser was able to keep the tournament alive by inviting smaller 2A and 3A schools.
The new coach said he hopes next summer to revive the Payson Invitational to its former glory.
Throughout June and July, the coach oversaw twice-weekly open gym sessions, a three-on-three tournament and several other activities.
Several of the players who participated said they enjoyed Loutzenheiser's enthusiasm for the game.
With his first varsity campaign a few months away, Loutzenheiser is now single-handedly coaching the Rim Country Middle School 7th-grade football team.
When not coaching, he is a math teacher at Payson High.
Archery shoot set
The Payson Bowhunters will host a deer season tune-up 3-D shoot Aug. 18 and 19 just east of Payson, off Granite Dells Road.
The event starts both days at 6 a.m. and will include two 20-target courses.
Scores will be kept and trophies and door prizes awarded. Call Tige Godac (928) 474-9678 or Scott Darneel (928) 474-2563 for more information.