When Payson High School moved from the 3A "small school" conference two years ago to 4A "big school" ranks, coaches predicted the shift would mean less individual recognition for Longhorn athletes.
For the most part, those predictions have come true.
In the 4A conference, the sheer numbers of standout athletes makes it tough for Payson players, and those in the Grand Canyon Region, to be selected for postseason honors.
Never was that fact more evident than Dec. 19 when the Arizona All-State football and Arizona Coaches Association All-Star squads were named.
Not a single Payson High School football player was acknowledged on either team.
That doesn't mean the Longhorns didn't have any standout players. Some of the PHS seniors --ossibly Tyler Williams, Chris Skinner, Kyle Sachak, James Gibson, Greg Barnes and Nick DeGroot -- would have probably received postseason recognition had PHS been a member of the 3A ranks.
But in 4A, the competition is simply too fierce and the politics of postseason all-star selections too powerful for Payson football players to be acknowledged.
The slight wasn't just of Payson players; most of the players from the Grand Canyon region weren't recognized.
On the all-state first teams, only Flagstaff center Joe Bernardi, Mingus defensive lineman Robert Doss and Coconino defensive back Will Campbell were chosen.
Coconino wide receiver Vaughn Howard was the only GC player to earn second team accolades.
Most of the players chosen represented Valley gridiron powers like Moon Valley and Centennial.
When Payson High returns to the 3A conference next school year, Longhorn athletes will regain legitimate opportunities to be recognized in the postseason.
If the 1A-3A all-state player selections are on target, Blue Ridge coach Paul Moro must have done a heck of a coaching job fielding the Yellow Jacket's undefeated state championship team.
Only one of his players, lineman Tyler Massey, was named to the first team offense.
On the second team, only running back Ryan Randell was named.
Coolidge, who the Jackets beat in the state championship game, had three players chosen first team offense including quarterback Angel Felix, wide receiver Oscar Palacios and lineman Manuel Valenzuela. Felix also was named small school player of the year.
For Blue Ridge, having only two players chosen to first- and second-team offenses seems odd since the Yellow Jacket offense was known as one of the most explosive in the state.
During the course of the regular season, BR beat Round Valley 51-7, Alchesay 67-0 and Holbrook 63-0. In the state playoffs , the Jackets whipped Wickenburg 52-7 and Queen Creek 34-9.
The BR defense did have three players -- lineman Anthony Williams, linebacker Weston Petrovich and defensive back Nate Harris -- chosen first team.
No BR defender was named to the second team defense. That means Moro was able to roll through an undefeated season and to the state championship with just five players worthy of all-state recognition.
There's some tremendous coaching going on in Lakeside.
GVP now stocked
Arizona Game and Fish officers began stocking Green Valley Park with trout during the week of Oct. 11. The lakes will continue to be stocked every three weeks through mid-May. Officials do not reveal the exact date of the stockings, but they are usually at the end of the week.
For more information on fishing at GVP, call (928) 474-5242, ext. 7.