East Region Is Most Competitive In The State

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Some might argue the point, but statistics prove that without a doubt the East region is the most competitive in the 3A football conference.

The most glaring stat is that since 1964, East region teams have won 21 of 37 state championships.

Since Paul Moro took over as head coach at Blue Ridge in 1984, he's guided the Yellow Jackets to nine of those titles.

Snowflake has won seven championships two of which came when former PHS head coach Jim Beall was at the helm of the Lobo program.

Other East teams that have won state football championships in the past decade include Show Low and Payson.

About the only team outside the East that has had much success winning state titles is Eloy Santa Cruz.

But the Dust Devils' titles were earned in the mid-'60s when coach Lonnie Foster had a stable full of talented running backs including Art and Benny Malone.

Some thought that this season Coolidge might have the horses to end the East's football supremacy.

But Blue Ridge put an end to any speculation the South was going to rise again by rolling over the then-undefeated Bears 58-8 in the championship game.

Close vote

A White Mountain-area website is conducting a poll to name the East region's "Player of the Year." Thus far, the poll has proved to be highly popular, having recorded more than 15,000 votes.

Scott Croft of Show Low led the voting in mid week with 6,053 votes.

Blue Ridge's Adam Moro was close behind with 6,048.

Others nominated and their vote totals were Snowflake's Porter Caldwell (1,353), Payson's Levi Armstrong (940), Blue Ridge's Paul Ensman (881) and St. John's Chaz Linscomb (169).

All-Star meet

High School football coaches from around the state gathered in the Valley Saturday morning for the Arizona Coaches Association annual meeting and all-star game selection.

In attendance at the meeting was first-year Payson High School coach Steve Saban (See Dec. 18 issue of the Roundup for local players chosen to the all-star game).

The meeting turned somewhat controversial among the 4A and 5A coaches when the ACA membership passed a motion to do away with the traditional North vs. South All-Star game.

Instead, the game in Casa Grande this summer will be a Class 4A team against a Class 5A squad.

The 5A coaches are said to have expressed the most opposition to the change in format. That was probably because under the North vs. South format, the 5A schools being larger had the most players selected for the game.

Now, both the 4A and 5A will have 32 players on each team.

The 4A vs. 5A format came about at the meeting because coaches couldn't agree on whether some schools should be placed in the North or South.

That's nothing unusual in the 1A to 3A All-Star game.

Not many years ago, Payson jockeyed back and fourth from South to the North all-star region.

Because Payson has most often played in the East region with the likes of Blue Ridge, Show Low, Snowflake and Round Valley, I always considered Payson a northern Arizona team.

But in 1987, all-stars Mark Velasco, Matt Rambo, Ty Goodman and Ty Chilson played for the South.

In later years, some Payson all-stars were placed on the North team.

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