The Rim Country Middle School Mavericks are gearing up for what they hope will be highly successful football, softball and cross country seasons.
On the eighth-grade football front, Mark Henning and Les Barr have inherited a talented group of athletes that should contend for the White Mountain League title.
The seventh-grade football team is somewhat an unknown since none of the players have middle school/junior high playing experience. But the team does have a pair of coaches, Jimmy Oestmann and Jon Gunzel, who once starred for Payson High School.
In the early 1990s, Oestmann played both quarterback and wide receiver for the Horns. Gunzel was a polished two-way lineman who was courted by several colleges before an injury slowed him.
The football teams open WML play at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 2 against Blue Ridge. The eighth-graders host Blue Ridge and the seventh-graders travel to Pinetop-Lakeside.
But before WML action begins, RCMS will travel to Cottonwood Aug. 26 for a tune-up. According to first year- RCMS athletic director Yvette Harpe, the format of the game has yet been decided.
"It could be a seventh-grade game, maybe an eighth-grade game or possibly a combination of the two teams," she said.
Kick off is 3:30 p.m.
In softball, practices began Aug. 9 with tryouts for the team. Will Dunman, also the Lady Longhorn head coach, returns to lead the eighth-grade crew. Vic Caballero, who once coached the Show Low High School varsity team, will head the seventh-grade program.
WML action kicks off September against Blue Ridge. Like in football, the eighth-graders will be at home and the seventh-grade team travels to Pinetop-Lakeside.
Tiffany Christensen will coach the RCMS cross country team as it begins its third year of existence.