Mother Nature pulled a cruel trick on Arizona State University that had the Sun Devils scurrying to Rumsey Park and local residents jumping for joy.
Monsoon rains fell Friday forcing the Sun Devils to abandon their preseason practice plans at Camp Tontozona. With the Tontozona field under three-inches of water, ASU opted to practice on the all-weather playing surface at Rumsey Park. The rain that put crimps in ASU coach Dirk Koetter's practice plans brought a sigh of relief to Gila County residents who have watched a statewide drought wreak havoc on the world's largest ponderosa pine forest.
After practicing Friday afternoon at Rumsey, the Sun Devils were expected to resume practices the following day at Tontozona. However, even more rain drenched Tontozona on Saturday and ASU was back at Rumsey for practices all weekend.
Word spread that the nationally 22nd-ranked Sun Devils (according to an Associated Press poll) were practicing in Payson, which brought out a nice-sized contingent of football fans.
Friday, those on-lookers saw Koetter severely chastise several players for lackadaisical attitudes and another for fighting with a teammate. Their punishment was "up downs" -- a drill that is more frequently seen on the high school field than on the university level.
During the following day's practice, Koetter appeared slightly pleased that the players were more focused and on task.
Following a scrimmage today at Tontozona, the ASU players will return to Payson for a swim at Taylor Pool followed by a movie at the Sawmill Theatres.
At 10 a.m., Saturday, the Sun Devils will hold their annual season-ending scrimmage at Tontozona. The traditional gridiron event is expected to draw upward of 5,000 football-starved fans.