While stadium lines shine brightly on Payson High School field tonight (Friday), fans, parents and PHS faculty will have a first-hand opportunity to learn just how good the current edition of the Longhorn football team is.
The opponent tonight is Class 2A St. Johns. But the small school size of the Redskins is not indicative of the strength of their football program.
Since arriving in tiny St. Johns more than a decade ago from his previous coaching stint in Ganado, Mike Morgan has laid the foundation for a football team that almost always reaches the final four of the state tournament.
Last year in St. Johns, the Redskins romped over Payson.
Morgan is again expected to field a strong team that could contend for 2A postseason honors.
PHS coach Steve Saban knows all to well the magic Morgan is able to weave with his team.
"As long as Mike Morgan is coaching, (St. Johns) will be a disciplined, hard-hitting team that can beat any team on any given night," Saban said.
In an effort to keep tabs on St. Johns, Horn coaches have kept the midnight oil burning.
"We've been breaking down film the past two days," assistant coach Mike Loutzenheiser said. "I think we have a good idea of what St. Johns is going to do. We'll just have to see if we can stop them."
Kick off is 7 p.m. and fans must remember they can no longer put their chairs on the track due to the construction of the artificial surface that is now in place.
After paying admission and when the stadium fills up, fans can move their seats to the asphalt road on the south side of the field near Wilson Dome.
With its relatively high location, those seats could afford unobstructed views.
My sincerest apology for not acknowledging Jimbo Armstrong as the defensive coordinator of the Longhorn football team.
In a story published last week that previewed the team, I referred to Mike Loutzenheiser as the defensive coordinator. This year, Loutzenheiser will be coaching the defensive secondary and Armstrong will oversee the entire defense.
Armstrong takes over from former defensive coordinator Jack Morris, who resigned at the end of last season.
ABG holds coaches, players hoop clinics
The Arizona Basketball Group will be hosting its third annual series of basketball clinics beginning tomorrow (Saturday) with a coaches clinic at Phoenix College. Other coaches clinics will be held Sept. 7, 14, 21 and 28 at PC. All sessions are from 9 to 11 a.m.
Players clinics will be held Oct. 5, 12, 19, 26 and Nov. 2 also at PC. Those sessions are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Some of the coaches that will be conducting the coed clinics are Creighton University assistant Jennifer Guilland, John Logan College head coach Marty Hawkins, head coach Kip Down of Grand Canyon College and University of Arizona women's head coach Joan Bonvicini.
According to Arizona Basketball group chairman Joe O'Conner, the clinics are open to high school, elementary school and recreational team coaches and players.
The cost for both coaches and players is $20 per clinic.
All clinics are instructional and do not involve player scrimmages.
Call O'Conner at (480) 917-2997 for more information.