The toughest part of a fall sports season for players and coaches is August practices.
Most of the month is spent on grueling conditioning sessions and the monotonous repetition of gearing up for the new season. Good coaches do their best to throw in new wrinkles to keep sessions challenging and interesting. But because muscles are sore, nerves frayed and there are no games to look forward to in the near future, preseason training is about as popular as a root canal.
For the Payson Longhorn football team, the past two preseasons might not have been as demanding as previous ones. Due to the new modified school schedule, classes in the district have started in early August. That meant the team has not had to undergo those dreaded two-a-days that are the bane of every football player's existence.
Not having two-a-days, however, doesn't make August a walk in the park.
Football players quickly tire of beating up on one another in drills and scrimmages. Most yearn for a look at some out-of-town faces.
Thankfully, players and fans that have been eagerly awaiting the onset of the new season can settle back and take a deep breath. Prep sports action begins this week.
Lady Longhorn volleyball coach Chris Schwind's team makes its debut at 6 p.m Friday in Wilson Dome against the Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets.
Although the clash is a preseason scrimmage only and will not count in the season standings, the evening will afford fans the opportunity for a sneak peek at the new varsity team.
The regular season opens at 6 p.m. Sept. 3 in Higley.
Those eager for a first look at the newest edition of the football team will have to travel to Eagar.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31, in the Round Valley High School dome, the Longhorns will scrimmage Monument Valley.
The boys and girls Longhorn cross country teams make their season debuts at 3 p.m. Wednesday Sept. 4, in the Payson Invitational. The run, which features junior varsity and varsity competition, is traditionally held near the Payson Golf Course.
The boys soccer team opens the season Sept. 6 and 7 at the Round Valley Invitational in Eagar.
The girls soccer team kicks off the new campaign at 6 p.m. Sept. 3, in St. Johns.