Although the Longhorn football team's 29-6 state tournament loss Thursday evening to Blue Ridge was disappointing, the players can take solace in the fact that most played their hearts out.
Sure, some made assignment errors, but most of the Payson players on the field were committed to giving their best for family, team, school and community.
Taking on a powerhouse like Blue Ridge is no easy task, especially in light of the fact the Yellow Jackets had rolled over Payson 64-0 only weeks earlier.
But from the opening kickoff, the Longhorn players put on a show of true grit that is not often evident in many of today's teenagers.
If you see a football player around town, give him a pat on the back for a job well done.
On the sidelines at the Payson vs. Blue Ridge game was former Longhorn football star Greg Alexander.
Longtime fans will remember Greg as a hard-nosed fullback who helped lead Payson to the 1987 A West championship and a berth in the state semifinals.
Now living in Wickenburg, Greg is married and has a stepson who plays for the Wranglers.
Sporting a Wickenburg T-shirt, I asked Greg if he had switched school allegiance. His answer was "I'll always be a Longhorn." His goal, he said, is to someday move his family to Payson.
After graduating from PHS in 1988, Greg continued his football career at a Kansas college and went on to earn a B.S. degree in business.
Also on the Payson sidelines was former PHS coach Kurt LaBlanc. Now the head coach at Queen Creek High School, LaBlanc had the evening off since his team did not qualify for the playoffs despite turning in a decent season.
Girl tallies TD
Has a girl ever scored a touchdown in a high school varsity football game?
That question was answered Friday evening when Scottsdale Saguaro sophomore Jessica Martinez scored on a two-yard TD run during Saguaro's 77-14 rout of Apache Junction. Her TD upped the Saguaro lead to 21-0 in the first quarter.
Official records are not kept, but it is believed to be the first TD by a girl in Arizona high school football history.
Fall sports end
With the football, volleyball, cross country and soccer seasons at an end, coaches in the winter sports of wrestling and basketball should have a full contingent of athletes to practice this week.
During the past two practice weeks, coaches Mike Loutzenheiser (boys basketball), Shaun Hardt (girls basketball) and Dave LaMotte (wrestling) have had to make do without athletes who were still competing in fall sports.
You can bet the coaches are breathing a sigh of relief that they can now prepare in earnest for what looks to be very challenging seasons.
The boys and girls basketball teams will be the first to spring into action when both compete in controlled scrimmages Nov. 15 in Wilson Dome against Chino Valley.
The girls game tips off at 4 p.m. and the boys at 6 p.m.
The wrestlers begin the season Nov. 30 at the Warriors Classic to be held at Mesa Westwood High School. Start time will be announced soon.