It has taken Payson High School Athletic Director Dave Bradley and his staff most of the summer months to build fall sports schedules for five Longhorn varsity teams.
Finally, however, the schedules have been posted and the athletes are primed for play.
The highlight of the fall season will be the much anticipated homecoming, the week of Sept. 26 to 30.
Throughout the week, the PHS student body and alumni will hold a full slate of pep assemblies, bonfires and contests to build school spirit.
Homecoming will be capped by a 7 p.m. football game Sept. 30 against Fountain Hills. At halftime, the homecoming king and queen will be crowned. Following the game, the annual homecoming alumni dance will be held.
Also on Sept. 30, the Longhorn cross-country team will host the annual Sludge to the Judge homecoming run on Main Street.
Expected to be in the field is the run's defending champion -- Carlan Pontious of Payson.
Last year, Pontious -- who competed in the race for the first time -- won the event in 13:01. He could have turned in a better time had he known the finish line was on the north side of Main Street.
It took the screaming of PHS assistant coach Chuck York to get Pontious to switch sides of the street where the finish line was. Finally, he made a late change that sent him careening over the finish line and almost stumbling.
This year's race, set to begin at 1:45 p.m., will be followed by the traditional parade which begins at Julia Randall Elementary School, proceeds down Main Street onto Colcord Road, Wade Lane, and past Rim Country Middle School before wrapping up in the football field parking lot.
For the volleyball team, the highlights will be the 16-team Payson Invitational Tournament Sept. 2 and 3 and the Class 3A East Regional Tournament Oct. 29 in Wilson dome.
Having the East showdown, which is a state tournament qualifier, in Payson gives the Lady Longhorns the home-court advantage.
If the Lady Horns can stir up some old-fashioned home cookin' in the dome they could be punching a ticket to the state tournament Nov. 4 and 5 in Chandler.
The boys soccer team will undoubtedly be focusing on a solid performance in the Payson Invitational tournament set for Sept. 23 and 24 at Rumsey Park.
The Lady Horns will not host a tournament but will travel to St. Johns Sept, 23-24 and Camp Verde, Oct. 14-15, for tournaments.
The season-ending regional and state sites and dates have not yet all been set.
Pick up a copy of the Aug. 16 Payson Roundup print edition for schedule clipouts of Payson High School football, volleyball, cross country, and boys and girls soccer.