With the 2000 prep soccer campaign officially at an end, all that remains for the Longhorn players is to await coaches voting to select the all-region team.
East coaches and athletic directors were slated to meet yesterday (Thursday) at Hon-dah near Pinetop to complete the voting. (Results not available at press time.)
Payson High School coach Roger Wholly attended the meeting to nominate his selections and help select the team. Among the seniors on the Longhorn team who would be eligible for honors are Nick Sanders, Rob Jones, David Perez, Oscar Navarez and German exchange student Eike Radlow.
An underclassman who could be in contention for postseason laurels is Travis Sanders. The teen recently earned the title "Top Gun" after leading the Longhorns in scoring and assists.
In most prep sports, graduating seniors have the opportunity to be selected to play in the Arizona Coaches Association North vs. South All-Star games. Those celestial clashes are played each summer in Casa Grande as a part of the ACA's annual convention.
However, currently there is no soccer all-star game played.
Wholly's goal next summer is to sponsor a high school all-star game played in the Rim country. Such a star game was contested several years ago in Payson when Alfonzo Munoz coached the Longhorn team. Munoz was the guiding force behind that star show. After he resigned his coaching position to devote more time to his medical practice, the game fell by the wayside.
"We'd like to get that (all star game) back," Wholly said.
Horns earn state bid
Under Wholly's tutelage, the Payson High School team wrapped up the season with a 12-7-2 record.
During the course of the season, the Horns earned a state tournament berth as the region's fourth seed.
Pitted against Phoenix Country Day School in the first round of tournament played Oct. 27 at Tucson Udall park, the Longhorns saw their title dreams come to an end in a 4-1 loss.
In the defeat, the Horns jumped out to 1-0 lead on a Travis Sanders head shot.
With about 10 minutes remaining the first half, Phoenix scored to dead-knot the score 1-1.
The second half of play was all Phoenix as the Valley crew called upon a lightning-quick offense to rack up three consecutive goals.
With the loss, the Horns were relegated to a long trip home to the Rim country. The victory propelled Phoenix into the second round of the state tournament where the team lost on a shoot-out to Desert Christian School. Regulation play ended in a 2-2 tie.
The trials and tribulations of Payson's rugged season, Wholly said, produced "an older and wiser team" that could be much improved next season.
Following the team's return from Tucson, Wholly praised the efforts of assistant Kenny Holcomb.
"Without his help, it would not have been possible to complete the season," he said.
After playing their way to a state-opening round 3-1 victory over St. Gregory, the Lady Longhorn soccer team returned to Tucson Nov. 3 looking to advance to the championship game.
But, a 3-0 loss to Camp Verde eliminated the Horns from further competition.
The team, which was plagued by illness and injury much of the season, was without the services of starter Trista Carlton.
After suffering an ankle injury three weeks ago, Carlton was not cleared by doctors before game time to return to action.
In the girls finale Saturday afternoon at Udall Park, St. Johns whipped Camp Verde 1-0 to earn the Redskins a state title.