Always A Longhorn At Heart

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Condolences continue to pour in about the sudden and tragic death of 34-year-old Payson High School assistant football coach Jack Morris.

A very poignant letter arrived mid-week from former Longhorn football player Greg Alexander. Greg, who now lives in Wickenburg, was a teammate of Jack's on the 1986 PHS state runner-up team.

Greg was moved by the poem that PHS boys basketball coach Mike Loutzenheiser penned about Jack and the ‘86 team. Mike, who read the poem at Jack's funeral, was a wide receiver/defensive back on the team.

Coach Foster,

I'm terribly sad to hear about the loss of a friend, teammate and brother. Mike's poem that summarized Jack's death couldn't be any clearer and real than what he wrote and said.

I want to thank Mike from the bottom of my heart for representing his brothers from the past and conveying a message to those that will become one in the future. This goes to show how valuable relationships become the day a young man decides to give his heart and body to the purple and gold.

It's a relationship that lasts a lifetime.

Almost 10 years later (after graduation from PHS) I ran into Jack at a state playoff game. Jack was scouting Blue Ridge and the funny thing was, Payson wasn't even in the playoffs. He was designing a defensive coverage to defeat the Yellow Jackets the next season.

One thing I will always remember about Jack -- and all successful teams have them -- is the ‘father away from home' that he was to us. Our team had two -- Jack and Mark Velasco. Jack was always the brother that made the right decisions and kept the team in check. I can truly see how he is going to be missed by his family. His resilience has reached many others including myself.

My condolences go out to his wife, kids and family.

Greg Alexander

Junior golf folds

The Payson Junior Golf program that once showed so much promise has folded. According to members of the Payson Junior Golf Association, the program was unable to meet its goals, so it was discontinued.

A limited amount of funds from a benefit raffle that was recently held are available for dispersion. Individuals who purchased those raffle tickets are welcome to submit suggestions about where the money should be used.

Suggestions should relate to junior golf or other local youth activities. Suggestions should be submitted before April 8 to Payson Junior Golf Association, P.O. Box 1365, Payson, AZ 85547.

Stocking Stuffer tourney moves to Chaparral Pines

The Payson Stocking Stuffer Golf Tournament is held annually to raise money for Christmas holiday gift giving to underprivileged children and adults in the Rim country.

Last Christmas, the Santa's List organization -- which sponsors the benefit tournament -- helped more than 1,000 needy residents by providing them with gifts.

The good news for Santa's List and golfers is that the 18th annual tournament will be held for the first time on the plush Chaparral Pines Golf Course.

The competition, which is open to all amateur golfers, gets off to a shotgun start at 11 a.m. May 11.

The entry fee is $225 per player. The Early Bird fee is $200 for those who sign up before March 19. The fee includes green fees, cart, lunch and a prize party at the conclusion of the tournament.

Prizes will be awarded for closest-to-the-pin drives on par 3 holes and for longest drives (Both men and women).

The lucky golfer who shoots a hole-in-one on a pre-selected hole will win a 2004 vehicle from Chapman Auto Center.

Entry forms are available at the Payson Roundup, 708 N. Beeline Highway. For more information, call (928) 472-8827 or (888) 843-8032.

PAHH benefit set for spring

The Payson Area Habitat Home Run 5K will be May 15 at Green Valley Park. The annual event, which draws both walkers and runners, will get off at 8 a.m.

Registration and T-shirt pickup begins at 6:30 a.m. Immediately after the run, and until about 10 a.m., a pancake breakfast and awards ceremony will be held in the park.

The registration fee is $15 if paid before May 7. After May 7 and on the day of the race, the fee is $20. The registration fee includes participation in the race, an event T-shirt and breakfast. Guest breakfast tickets will be available on race day for $3. Children's tickets are $1.

This year for the first time, cash prizes will go to the overall top three male and female finishers. First place is worth $100 and second-place finishers receive $50. Third place runners earn $25. Medals will also be awarded to the top three men and women in each age category. All racers also are entered in a raffle.

The event is held each year to benefit the Payson Area Habitat for Humanity and its mission to build affordable housing in the Rim country.

Registration forms are available at the Payson Athletic Club, 400 E. Highway 260, or the PAHH offices, 1013 S. Goodfellow Road. Call (928) 474-0330 for more information.

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