Longhorn Winter Crews

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Although the football, cross country and girls soccer seasons are not yet at an end, practices in the winter sports of basketball and wrestling began Monday.

Those athletes competing in the on-going fall sports are not required to report for winter sports until they have completed their obligations to the fall teams.

For longtime fans, the upcoming wrestling season might seem a tad unusual.

After coaching the Longhorns for 28 years, Dennis Pirch retired last spring and turned the program over to Dave LaMotte. Not seeing Pirch on the edge of the mat will be shock for most. But the Horns have themselves a heck of a replacement in LaMotte.

Everywhere he's been, LaMotte has proven to be a winner on and off the mat. If you have a son, LaMotte is the kind of man you want coaching him.

In boys basketball, Mike Loutzenheiser takes over the program from Randy Wilcox who resigned last season.

Longtime sports fans will remember Loutzenheiser from his playing days at PHS in the late '80s. I had the opportunity to coach him in football and 10 years later worked with him coaching the RCMS eighth-grade football team. My prediction is that he's going to be a very good coach who will inspire players to reach their potential.

The only returning coach is Shaun Hardt in the girls basketball program.

Hardt will be in his second year at the helm of the program and is a hard worker who has put his heart and soul into the off season program. With the kind of effort he puts into his coaching, he can't help but produce successful teams and good citizens.

I wonder if the athletes at PHS know how fortunate they are to have such quality coaches?

Bring money and chair

If you're planning on taking in tonight's opening round state tournament game in Longhorn stadium against Eloy Santa Cruz, take along a little extra cash and a folding chair.

You'll need the money to pay the $5 entrance fee that is mandated by the Arizona Interscholastic Association for all tournament games. And that fee applies to all who attend regardless of age.

Also, season passes are not valid for post-season play.

Payson High School Athletic Director Dave Bradley is predicting the small stands at PHS will fill up quickly, so he's advising fans to bring a folding chair and set it up outside the end zone.

Kick off is 7 p.m.

Good job

First-year volleyball coach Chris Schwind did a bang-up job coaching the Lady Longhorns this past season. Unfortunately, the team didn't have the firepower to make the state tournament.

Only the top four teams in each region receive invitations to postseason play and the Lady Horns wrapped up the campaign in fifth place.

The East's top seed and championship

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