Spirit Line Seeking Support

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The Payson High School spirit line needs your help to purchase new warm-up uniforms.

Public support can flow their way by a most enjoyable means -- purchase a Navajo taco dinner for only $5.

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The PHS spirit line will host a benefit dinner to earn money for new warm-ups.

The benefit meal will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 30 in the Payson High School parking lot located just north of the football field.

Tickets are available at the gate or in advance from any cheerleader.

In addition to enjoying a lip-smacking dinner and drink, later that evening school supporters can cheer the Longhorn football team in its quest to upset Fountain Hills. The homecoming showdown kicks off at 7 p.m.

During the game, the spirit line members will be on the sidelines leading the crowd in Longhorn cheers. At halftime, they will also participate in the traditional homecoming ceremonies and the crowing of royalty.

Spirit line sponsor Becky Hagler estimates about $2,500 is needed to purchase the uniforms.

"We greatly appreciate those who come out and support us at the dinner," she said. "After dinner, be sure to go to the game."

Coaches fret

Homecoming is a much anticipated event for students, parents, alumni and teachers.

But for football coaches, they can be a huge pain in the backside.

That's because, the coach's job is to prepare his team for Friday night's homecoming game amidst an array of hoopla that can detract from the concentration of the players.

The challenge for coaches, including PHS's Jerry Rhoades, is to keep players focused on football and not homecoming royalty, pep assemblies, dances, parades, scavenger hunts and evening bonfires.

When working with impressionable teenagers eager to look good in the eyes of their peers, that can be a tough challenge to meet.

In 1983, as coach at Show Low High School, my team was locked in a heated region showdown during homecoming evening.

At halftime, with the outcome of the game on the line, our staff desperately needed our quarterback in the locker room to explain offensive changes we were going to make.

But, he was no where to be found.

He had been elected homecoming king and was atop a float in the middle of the field smacking a smooch on the cheek of the queen.

Seeing that, I raced onto the field, admonished him to get off the float and escorted him into the locker room.

The ear-splitting chorus of boos that followed me from our own Show Low fans rivaled a fanatic Oakland Raider crowd overflowing McAfee Coliseum.

That homecoming king is now a coach and teacher at Show Low High School.

He says he hasn't yet forgiven me.

Such homecoming distractions usually result in coaches and athletic directors scheduling less than formidable foes for the game.

Any high school football team that finds itself playing in a number of homecoming games during the course of the season probably doesn't have an overpowering reputation on the field.

So, how did Payson end up playing state third-ranked Fountain Hills at its homecoming?

"I don't think any of us knew they were going to be that good," Rhoades said.

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