No one can ever claim that those in charge of the Longhorn football program went looking for a homecoming patsy this season.
The Horns opponent for that big event is state champion favorite and longtime state powerhouse Blue Ridge.
That homecoming game will kick off at 7 p.m., Oct. 25, in Payson.
Scheduling such a powerhouse opponent for a homecoming game is almost unheard of in high school sports. Normally, coaches and athletic directors go looking for down-and-out teams to play on homecoming.
The distractions of the week of festivities, which include dances, parades, pep assemblies and the election of royalty, make focusing on tough regional foes like Blue Ridge extremely difficult. So, the rule of thumb in football has usually been to schedule a sure fire win for homecoming. .
At Show Low High School in 1983, I took over a Cougar team that was winless the previous season, had never beaten rival Snowflake and had never played in the postseason.
It became a joke on our team that when on the road we were almost certain to be in a homecoming game.
And we did just that. Because of our lowly reputation, our opponents expected to roll over us and then relish in the victory at the postgame homecoming dance.
Even at football-poor Ganado, we found ourselves in a homecoming game.
Wow. That hurt.
Thankfully, we turned in an 8-3 year, beat Snowflake, won the East championship and advanced to the state tournament.
That took a little of the sting out of being everyone's homecoming foe.
I doubt coach Blue Ridge Paul Moro and his Yellowjacket juggernaut have seen many homecomings.
Preliminary copies of Longhorn fall sports schedules are now available at Payson High School.
During the next few weeks, the Roundup will preview all of the Longhorn teams. Each article will include an up-to-date schedule that can be clipped out and referred to during the season.
Fans, students and parents are requesting schedules but since high school scheduling is not an exact science, we'll wait a little closer to the start of the season before publishing those.
One of the changes that has occurred since the schedules were first published at PHS is the pre-season football scrimmage originally slated for 7 p.m., Aug. 30, against Phoenix Christian on PHS field.
That has been cancelled and the Longhorns are now slated to scrimmage at 2 p.m., Aug. 31, at Round Valley High School in Eagar against Monument Valley.
Fans who attend that event should not expect a full blown game.
Pre-season scrimmages are played without any punts or kickoffs and coaches are allowed on the field.
The purpose of the scrimmage is to give players and their coaches the opportunity to fine-tune both offenses and defenses before the season begins.
For Payson High School, the campaign kicks off at 7 p.m., Aug. 6, on Longhorn football field against St. Johns.