Athletes at Payson High School can breathe sighs of relief knowing preseason practices are about over and the start of the fall sports campaign is just around the corner.
Since Aug. 6 the date the Arizona Interscholastic Association allows practices to begin the Longhorns' football, volleyball, cross country and soccer teams have been preparing for runs at East regional and 3A conference honors. Those practices that lead up to the onset of the season are the most testing that young athletes must endure.
The first squad to jump into action will be the football team of first-year football coach Steve Saban. The Longhorns are slated to travel Aug. 24 to Phoenix Christian for a controlled scrimmage. Kick off is at 7 p.m. The scrimmage doesn't count in the standings and no score is supposed to be kept, but the results of the clash are usually a good prediction of things to come.
Rookie coach Chris Schwind's volleyball team is next to begin play. The Lady Horn netters travel Aug. 28 to Higley for a full slate of games. Game times are 4 p.m. (freshmen), 5 p.m. (jayvee), and 6 p.m. (varsity).
Aug. 29, the jayvee ( 4 p.m.) and varsity girls (6 p.m.) soccer teams spring into action at Rumsey Park against the St. Johns Redskins. The boys team, under new head coach Roger Wholly, debuts at 1 p.m. Sept. 1 on the Rumsey Park multipurpose field against Queen Creek. The varsity showdown is preceded at 11 a.m. by a jayvee contest.
The last to begin the new campaign will be the Longhorn cross country teams. Both the boys and girls travel to Flagstaff Sept. 1 for the annual Peaks Invitational. The start time has yet to be determined.