Coaches Needed For Youth Teams

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Payson Recreation Specialist Charlene Hunt continues to scour the community in search of volunteer youth coaches for third- and fourth-grade boys and girls basketball teams.

Duties include coaching youth teams during Saturday games and also during weekday practices as scheduled by the coach. Anyone interested should visit the parks and recreation offices at Green Valley Park to fill out a coach's form.

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Town recreation specialist Charlene Hunt is in need of youth coaches for the coming season.

Player registration ends Dec. 15. League play begins Jan. 8, 2005. For more information, call Hunt at (928) 474-5242, ext. 268.

Yellow Jackets sting Bears

The Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets --he Longhorns' longtime rivals from the years Payson spent in the 3A East region -- are gridiron champions once again.

In the 3A state football championship game Nov. 27 at Mesa College, the Yellow Jackets (13-0) upset favored Coolidge 25-24 to win Blue Ridge's 12th state title.

The coach who kickstarted Blue Ridge's winning tradition in the early 1970s, Joe Girardi, would have been proud of the team's late-game heroics. Girardi died about 20 years ago in a car accident near Winslow.

After Blue Ridge fell behind 24-6 at halftime, it looked as if the Bears had solved the mystery that has followed Blue Ridge teams since the days Girardi was at the helm of the program. But lo and behold, the Yellow Jackets came roaring back to cut the Coolidge lead to 24-16.

Blue Ridge closed to within two, 24-22, with 8:31 left when Ryan Randell scored on about a five-yard run.

Coolidge, however, stuffed the Yellow Jacket's two-point conversion attempt to retain the slim lead.

Minutes later, Blue Ridge capped the amazing rally with a 29-yard field goal off the toe of place kicker Bryce Talbot.

The championship was the Yellow Jackets' second in the past four years.

The win also wrapped up a season in which Blue Ridge totally dominated its opponents averaging almost 50 points a game while giving up only three.

Running backs Frank Parkinson, Jeremy Bench and Randell built reputations as beings some of the quickest in the state.

Blue Ridge also fielded a standout defensive team that in the regular season came up one shutout shy of tying a state record for most in a season.

During the team's run to the state crown, the Yellow Jackets defeated the Curt LeBlanc-coached Queen Creek Bulldogs 34-0.

LeBlanc was an assistant at Payson High School in 1998 when the Horns whipped Blue Ridge for the 3A championship.

In addition to the East region being the home of the Yellow Jackets, it also had a fine Round Valley team that advanced to the semifinals before losing to Blue Ridge.

From the East region, Show Low, Round Valley and Blue Ridge all made it to the quarterfinals.

When Payson returns to the East region next season, the Horns will find themselves once again in the most competitive small-school region in the state.

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