The smell of pigskin will soon fill the air. It's slated to permeate the Rim country atmosphere beginning at 5:15 a.m. July 19 when the Longhorn preseason football camp begins.
The camp will continue weekdays until wrapping up on the afternoon of July 23.
Although the camp is not mandatory, second-year head coach Jerry Rhoades urges all prospective high school football players, freshmen through seniors, to participate.
Those who fail to enroll, Rhoades said, will be at a severe disadvantage when the regular season kicks off Monday, Aug. 2.
A purpose of the camp is to build team unity which Rhoades predicts will bode well for the players during the Longhorns' second year in the 4A conference.
Last season, the team compiled an 8-2 record but did not earn a state tournament berth because it didn't pile up enough points in the conference's power-point playoff system. The system awards points on strength of schedule, as well as victories.
As a first-year member of the 4A ranks, Payson's schedule didn't feature enough "quality wins" for the Horns to advance to the postseason.
At camp, Rhoades will introduce the players to a new offensive system. Last season, the team ran a Wing-T offense.
According to Rhoades, the team will abandon the Wing T in favor of a wide open triple option attack. Mike Loutzenheiser will replace David Daniels as the offensive coordinator.
Defensively, Rhoades will retain the 43 look he has coached since he was the defensive coordinator at Mingus High School three years ago. He will, however, change some of the terminology he previously used.
The coach also plans to use camp time to complete tasks that couldn't be done at last spring's workouts due to the poor player attendance.
"We basically didn't have a spring (training) so we have to make up for it somewhere," he said.
A typical camp day will begin at 5:30 a.m. with agility drills, conditioning and stretching.
After breakfast and a chalk talk by the offensive coaches, the team begins an 8:30 a.m. workout that will focus on the new offense.
Team and individual offensive competitions begin at 11 a.m. and continue until noon when lunch is served.
After a 2 p.m. chalk talk by defensive coaches, a workout focusing on defense and special teams will begin.
The evening meal is at 5:30 p.m. Passing league 7-on-7 games begin at 7 p.m. and continue until about 9 p.m.
What to bring
Prospective campers need to take black or purple shorts and T-shirts for five days. Rhoades is requesting the T-shirts say "Payson" on them. Players should bring football shoes, sneakers, sweatshirt and pants, toiletries, towel, a sleeping bag, pillow, three-ring binder, pencils, a cooler filled with refreshments and a George Foreman-type grill.
For the five days, the players will camp on the Payson High School campus. The fee is $125.
Players don't need their physical exam to participate in the camp, but must have the exams completed by the time pre-season practices begin Aug. 2.
Campers will, however, have to have their own medical insurance policies.
For more information on the camp or the football program, call Rhoades at (928) 474-2233.