All 6 Youth Teams Win Season Openers

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The Payson entries in the Central Arizona Youth Football Association turned in an unbeaten opening day that some involved in the organization acknowledge might be a first.

Official records are not kept, but no one can remember an opening day when all six Rim teams were victorious.

The 2003 season openers were played Sept. 6 in Chino Valley.

In the Mighty Mite division, the Payson Bears whipped the Wickenburg Wranglers 20-0 and the Payson Buccaneers outlasted the Cottonwood Marauders 16-12.

Minor division play saw the Payson Cowboys lasso the Cottonwood Titans 26-14 and the Payson Wildcats claw the Wickenburg Wranglers 20-6.

The Payson Eagles kicked off CAYFA Major division play with a 32-6 win over the Wickenburg Wranglers. The Payson Raiders continued the Rim country onslaught with a 30-6 spanking of the Big Bug Rangers.

All of the volunteers who help staff the local youth football program do a tremendous job. Without their commitment and dedication, the local youngsters who participate each year would not have the opportunity to play what I believe is the greatest sport in the world.

If you know a volunteer in the organization, give him or her a pat on the back for a job well done.

Soccer sign-up

Fledgling soccer players born between August 1990 and July 1991 will soon have the opportunity to compete on a Rim country year-round club soccer team.

Most of the 12- and 13-year-old athletes will probably come from the ranks of the seventh and eighth grades.

Team founder and coach Kim Wholly emphasizes that the new squad will be a club team and not affiliated with Rim Country Middle School or the Town of Payson Parks and Recreation Department.

According to Wholly, the fledgling team will participate in an American Youth Soccer Association league headquartered in Camp Verde.

Youths interested in participating on the new team may sign-up at Rim Country Middle School.

Once Wholly gauges the interest in forming the team, she and other AYSA officials will host a parent meeting in which details of play including fees, practice dates and playing schedules will be discussed.

For more information, call Wholley at 474-8785.

Remember her?

Track and field and cross-country fans recall the classic battles former Lady Longhorn running star Whitney Hardt and Mingus standout Ariel Latimer engaged in.

When the two got together, a running melee of massive proportions was almost a certainty.

Hardt, now a senior at Round Valley High School, will wrap up her prep cross-country season this year.

Latimer, who graduated from MUHS last spring, is now a member of the Northern Arizona University Lady Lumberjack cross-country team.

At the George Kyte Classic last week at Flagstaff Buffalo Park, Latimer helped her team sweep the top six places and win the event title. Turning in an ET of 19:29.6 over the 5K course, the former Mingus star was sixth.

NAU coaches are predicating a bright future for Latimer.

DU festivities on tap

Although ticket sales are brisk, some remain available for the Ducks Unlimited banquet and festivities Sept. 20 at the Mazatzal Casino.

Single banquet tickets are $50, couple tickets are $90 and Greenwing (under 18 years) tickets may be purchased for $35. All tickets include the banquet dinner and membership in Ducks Unlimited.

The menu is filet mignon, twice-baked potatoes, vegetable, Caesar salad and dessert.

Doors open at 4:30 p.m. and the meal is served at 6 p.m. The raffle, auction and other festivities begin immediately after dinner.

New this year are corporate tables available for either $500 or $1,000.

According to DU chairperson Sandy Gunderson, three of the $500 tables and one $1,000 table have been purchased.

Those who purchased their tickets before Sept. 8 are entered into an early bird drawing for a Ruger Mark II Bull Barrel .22 caliber pistol.

For tickets, call Gunderson at (928) 476-2168.

Saben cancels varsity team

Former Payson High School football coach Steve Saben, now the head coach at Rio Rico, has canceled his team's varsity schedule for the remainder of the season. After losing 44-15 to Class 2A Bisbee Friday night, Saben canceled the varsity schedule due to low varsity participation and the threat of injuries to some of his smaller players. Rio Rico will now play a junior varsity schedule.

Cancellation of a varsity team has been done in the past but it certainly is a last gasp decision that requires a well thought out plan on how to rectify the problem the following year.

After spending two years as the head coach at Payson, Saben's contract was not renewed last spring.

The cancellation of Rio Rico's varsity football program has the Show Low Cougars and Alchesay Falcons scouring the state looking for make up games. Both Show Low and Alchesay had Rico on the regular season agendas.

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