For more than four hours in rising Rim country heat, aspiring football players from Tempe, Chandler and Payson exchanged passing league blows.
When the tournament began Saturday morning on Longhorn field, the players representing Basha, Marcos de Niza and Payson High School showcased their skills in relatively cool temperatures.
By the time the gridiron clashes wore down just after noon, the teens were feeling the effects of the 90-degree plus temperatures.
Only minutes after the tournament wrapped up, players from Basha and Payson joined parents and coaches in nearby shade for a hamburger and hot dog barbecue. Marcos de Niza players had to leave early.
In the tournament, which was held on two 40-yard fields, Payson entered a pair of teams made up of players eager to earn spots on rosters next season.
No game scores were kept, but first year head coach Jerry Rhoades said he was satisfied with the performances of many of the Longhorn athletes.
When the 2003 season kicks off at 7 p.m., Aug. 29, on Longhorn field against Cortez, the PHS team will feature many new faces. The nucleus of last year's squad, including all-state running back Waylon Pettet, graduated last spring.
The lack of a solid core of veterans has Rhoades stressing the importance of summer practices.
Conditioning and weight-training sessions are held Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The morning session is from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. The evening session, which draws most of the older players with summer jobs, is conducted from 5:30 p.m. to about 7:30 p.m. In the evening session, the players also practice their summer league 7-on-7 passing league offense.
For more information on the summer program, call Rhoades at 474-4511 or 474-2233.