A trio of Payson High School seniors, and possibly one other, will participate in the Arizona Coaches Association North versus South All-Star game when it is played next summer in Casa Grande.
In a voting of the state's prep coaches held Dec. 8 in Phoenix, Ky Bradley, Levi Armstrong and Levi Amon were selected members of the North celestial squad. Payson's Shawn Pickle was chosen an alternate on the team.
Payson coach Steve Saban was in attendance, and returned to the Rim country saying the local players chosen were worthy of the honor.
Bradley, he said, "was probably the strongest quarterback in the (east region) and was a very steady kid."
The coach characterized Armstrong "as a workhorse who had a great attitude."
Amon, Saban said, "was like Armstrong in that he was undersized, but had a great work ethic and the heart of a lion."
For Bradley, the son of PHS athletic director Dave Bradley, making the football all-star game was the first of two goals he's set for himself.
At the conclusion of the spring baseball season, he hopes to join a select few Payson High School athletes who have participated in both the ACA football and baseball all-star games.
The past two seasons, Bradley has been the Longhorn's starting signal caller, but it might have been his play on the defensive side of the ball that earned him an all-star position.
Playing both safety and linebacker, Bradley led the team in solo tackles with 15. He also recorded 50 assists and had a team-high three interceptions.
As a quarterback, he completed 50 of 106 passes for 840 yards and nine touchdowns.
With Bradley in the all-star lineup, North coach Paul Moro from state champion Blue Ridge will have a talented athlete who can man positions on both sides of the ball.
Armstrong also is two-way player, equally at home at fullback or linebacker.
As the Horns leading rusher last season with 1,138 yards, Armstrong racked up most of his yardage on blast and dive plays between the tackles where yardage is the toughest to come by.
His 5.9-yards-per-carry average was one of the best in the East region.
Armstrong also led the Longhorns in scoring with 14 touchdowns.
As a part-time linebacker, Armstrong finished with 12 assisted and five solo tackles.
In Amon, the Horn roster sported another durable two-way player who led the team in assisted tackles with 59.
In mid-season, defensive coordinator Jack Morris said Amon was possibly the Horns' best linebacker.
When not playing "D," Amon an offensive guard was opening holes for the Horns stable of running backs.
As a guard in the Wing-T offensive scheme, he relieved on quickness and technique to overcome his lack of size (170 pounds).
Although Pickle was chosen as an alternate, the chance to participate in the post-school-year classic could become a reality.
In past years, alternates have received last minute invitations to play mostly because some all-stars cannot participate due to summer employment responsibilities.
If Moro does invite Pickle, he'll have an all-star he knows all to well.
In Blue Ridge's 29-6 state tournament playoff win over Payson, Pickle playing noseguard gave the Yellow Jackets fits all evening long. Scrambling from sideline to sideline, Pickle was a defensive terror before an injury slowed him late in the game.
He finished the season with 48 assisted tackles, four solos, five fumbles caused and two sacks.