In 1994, I coached the first eighth-grade football team at Rim Country Middle School.
Pitted against White Mountain League powers that had long fielded junior high/middle school football teams, we were huge underdogs at the onset of the season.
Surprising everyone, we finished the season undefeated and won the league championship.
As those players left RCMS to becoming freshmen, I told them if they stuck together and continued to improve through high school they someday would become state champions.
In 1998, that prophecy became true when the players, most of whom were on that first RCMS team, won the Class 3A state title.
Also in 1998, I coached another eighth-grade team that finished the season unbeaten and won the WML championship. I told them if they stuck together through four years of high school, they too would someday win a state championship.
In truth, they were a more talented group of athletes than the Maverick team that won the 1994 crown. But that group never came close to a state championship. As their high school years wore on, some quit the sport, others moved away, some dropped out of school and there were those who struggled academically to stay eligible.
As a former coach and teacher of those boys, I was disappointed they were never able to enjoy the same fruits of their labors as did the players on the first Maverick team.
A state championship is a thrill that lasts a lifetime.
But now tragic news of the death of one of the players on that RCMS team, Garrett Quotskuyva, makes the thoughts of a state title pale.
I felt a type of coach-player bond with "Quots" -- as coaches do with all their players --nd am deeply saddened his life has come to an end at such a young age.
Sports calendars for sale
The sale of Longhorn sports posters by Summit Screen Print the past six years has generated more than $50,000 for the Payson High School sports program. Advertising in the newest edition of the calender/posters, which will include athletic schedules for the 2004-2005 year, is now being sold.
According to Summit owner Chuck Hallock, only a few spaces remain. Anyone interested in purchasing advertising should call Chuck at (928) 474-6402. The Aug. 16 deadline is rapidly approaching.
An inaugural Fall Stampede is slated for Oct. 2. Both the series and the stampede will be at the Payson Event Center.
Hunt explained the "progressive" format to be used in the fall barrel series as one in which riders will compete against other riders with similar times rather than in age groups.
It is similar to the 4D format the National Barrel Horse Association uses. In it, the competitors are grouped into four divisions based on their times.
According to NBHA District II Director Suzanne Barnes, having four divisions levels the playing field for the competitors.
"The motto of NBHA is ‘where beginners can be winners,'" she said. "We make it fair and fun for everyone."
During the progressive series, Hunt said, "there will only be one event each night, alternating barrels and poles each week."
At the conclusion of the competition, Gist buckles will be awarded to the five high-point riders in each time slot.
For the Fall Stampede, eight events will be held each day. Books open at 8 a.m. and the first event will begin at 10 a.m. In the Stampede, riders will compete in age groups.
They are: 8 and under, 9 to 12, 13 to 17, 18 to 39 and 40 and older.
The entry fee is $5 per event or $25 for all. At the conclusion of the competition, trophies, ribbons and other high-point awards will be given.
Rules and event descriptions are available at the parks and recreation office at Green Valley Park. Pre-registration for the Fall Stampede will begin Sept. 20 and conclude Oct. 1.
Fore more information on the series or Fall Stampede, call Hunt at (928) 474-5242, ext. 7.