After watching the Longhorn freshman football team wreak havoc on its foes by scores to 33-6 (St. Johns), 61-0 (Wickenburg), 44-0 (Queen Creek) and 35-0 (Phoenix Christian), veteran observers are wondering if this might be the best freshman team in the history of Payson High.
If memory serves, there have been some exceptional first-year teams at Payson High.
In 1991, a freshman team led by Byron Quinlan and Jon Gunzel finished the season undefeated. Several of their victories, including one over Blue Ridge, were by narrow margins.
That team excelled despite not having the advantage of playing on a middle school/junior high school team. Rim Country Middle School didn't field seventh- and eighth-grade football teams until 1994.
In 1996, the freshman crew paced by Cade Bradley and Jimbo Armstrong was also undefeated. Those players went on, as juniors, to help the Longhorns win the state 3A championship.
Just two seasons ago, the freshman team paced by Waylon Pettet and Taylor Walden finished with an unblemished record. But, several players from that team have since gone astray and given up the sport.
There were also other standout freshman teams dating back to 1985 when Tee Feeney and Roy Sandoval coached an excellent group that included Carl Whittle.
There's little doubt those were all accomplished first-year teams.
This year's freshman group, however, appears to have everything it takes to someday take the Longhorns to the gridiron promised land the state championship. But for that to occur, the players must stay academically eligible, keep out of trouble and continue to improve.
In the world of teenage athletes, that's a huge challenge. I hope these players are up to it.
No frosh then
The overwhelming success and popularity of this season's freshman team makes one wonder what school district officials were thinking more than a decade ago when they eliminated freshman sports. The reasons given then were budget constraints.
Without a middle school/junior high or freshman program to train in, the PHS football players as juniors and seniors were at a severe disadvantage against the likes of Blue Ridge, Round Valley and Snowflake.
Those schools have always managed to field junior high and freshman teams.
PHS got its freshman football program back in 1990 when Pete Greer and Ned Schall, who were assigned to co-coach the jayvee team, agreed to split up and each take a team.
Schall coached the freshman and Greer the junior varsity.
As good as both were at their profession, coaching a high school team single-handedly is a task no man should have thrust upon him.
Thankfully, those days are over.
Poaching in Round Valley
A 90-pound Whitetail doe was poached recently near Lower Round Valley. The animal was slain with a bow and arrow.
Arizona Game and Fish officers are asking that anyone with information about the illegal act contact Operation Game Thief at 1-800-352-0700. There is a $250 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.
Meek inherits PWGA title
Dorothy Meek played her way to the championship of the weekly Payson Women's Golf Association tournament played Sept 11. Meek's biggest competition was supplied by runner-up Lynn Kools. Marge Landra and Kay Davis tied for third place honors.
Landra also won the closest-to-the-pin competition hole No. 5 at Payson Golf Course.
Blanche Nyberg was closest on hole No. 17.