Sports Vet Taps Top Teams, Players


For more than 30 years, Barry Sollenberger has been writing and publishing sports magazines and record books including his annual edition of Phoenix Metro Football.

The 2002 edition of the popular magazine went on sale last week at various newsstands around the state.

The 32nd annual edition contains all-time records for individuals and football teams, a wrap up of some of the best players in Arizona, all-state gridiron picks and preseason rankings of teams.

Among the 80 teams that Sollenberger previews is the Payson Longhorns coached by Steve Saban.

Sollenberger describes the Horns as, "a mixture of experienced seniors and some talented underclassmen (that) make for a promising season."

Sollenberger, who also serves as the Arizona Interscholastic Association's Sports Information Director, mentions several local players in his coverage including Waylon Pettet, Tyler Williams, Nate Perna, Mike Barr and Jake Swartwood.

Other players mentioned that are known in the Rim country include Red Mountain's Pat Dunn and Mountain View's Taylor Walden.

Pat, the son of former Payson High School football coach Dan Dunn, is a 6-foot, 3-inch, 180-pound tight end for the defending 5A state champion Mountain Lions.

Walden, who played youth, middle school and freshman football in Payson before moving to the Valley, is a 6-foot, 205-pound linebacker. His presence in the Toro defense is expected to help the team be a legitimate contender to wrestle the 5A championship away from Red Mountain.

Sollenberger also includes Walden in his "Metro Checklist of Players." The list contains athletes Sollenberger considers to be the best in the big school ranks.

In Sollenberger's "Statewide Poll Picks," he taps Lakeside Blue Ridge as the top-ranked team in the 3A conference. He describes the Yellow Jackets as "the best small-school program in the state."

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