About 1,500 fans turned out Aug. 13 at Camp Tontozona for an Arizona State University football team scrimmage. Although the mock game was a spirited one that gave the players the opportunity to showcase their skills in front of family and friends, it might have been the previous evening's practice at Rumsey Park that was the most memorable.
Late in ASU's afternoon practice, the Payson Buccaneers youth football team took a break from its own session -- also going on in Rumsey Park -- to watch the Devils.
When the pint-sized players asked for autographs and to meet the players, ASU coach Dirk Koetter lightheartedly responded by asking the youngsters if they would like to scrimmage his Sun Devils.
According to Bucs assistant coach Mike Loutzenheiser, the wide-eyed youngsters said they'd love to.
The Bucs players told Koetter they'd play defense against the Sun Devils' offense.
Excitedly, the two teams lined up against one another -- it was 300-pound behemoths against 80-pound youngsters.
Loutzenheiser tells the story, "ASU lined their first-string offense up against our first-team defense. The ball was marked at the 3-yard line and the first play was a dive which the Payson Bucs stopped at the 1-yard line. The next play ASU ran a sweep that Travis Bix blew-up for a 3-yard loss. On 3rd and goal ASU attempted a pass that was intercepted by Dallas Haught ... the Payson Bucs held ASU from scoring.
"After that play the ASU players surrounded our kids and led them in a team chant. Many of our players were picked-up, high-fived, and congratulated by the ASU players. My son, Troy received a wrist band from defensive back Keno Walter-White who was also coaching him up during the plays against ASU's offense.
"It was a great night for the kids, for ASU football, and for some of us dads who just happen to be ASU alumni.
Koetter later quipped his team was 0-1 against the Payson kids.
The coach also told onlookers the exchange between the group of young kids and university football players was a great experience for both teams.
In ASU's first five days at Camp Tontozona, the Sun Devils were forced to practice four times at Rumsey Park due to a rain-soaked playing field at the camp.
The Sun Devils will host a final camp scrimmage at 8:35 a.m. Aug. 19. Following it, the team will return to its Tempe campus to begin preparations for a Sept. 1 season opener against Temple University.
Coach makes faux pas
Rim Country Middle School physical education teacher and coach Randy Wilcox is among the spectators who have taken in an ASU practice at Rumsey Park.
Only problem is, during Wilcox's visit, he wore a University of Arizona T-shirt.
That is definitely a no-no in Sun Devil country.
When an ASU football player asked Wilcox if he was at the wrong practice site, the longtime coach sheepishly realized he was wearing one of his dreaded furious feline shirts.
Realizing he was in the wrong environment to wear the Tucson school's red, white and blue, he quickly pulled off the shirt and reversed it.
The following day at RCMS, Wilcox was spotted wearing a Sun Devil T-shirt.
It's a relief to known coach Wilcox now has his priorities in order.
Christmas for Kids tee time changes
The Payson Public Safety Christmas for Kids benefit golf tournament tee time has changed.
According to tournament director Matt Van Camp the new tee time is at 8 a.m. Originally the tournament was to tee off at 11 a.m., Aug. 27 at Payson Golf Course.
The annual benefit will also feature a barbecued steak dinner to be served at 6 p.m., Aug. 26, that will be prepared by Albert and Charlene Hunt.
For entry forms or more information, call Van Camp at (928) 474-5177, ext 251.