Austin White makes his Payson High School boys soccer coaching debut tomorrow, Saturday, in Sedona.
The showdown between the Scorpions and Longhorns will be a controlled scrimmage set to begin at 2 p.m.
The skirmish will provide the rookie coach the opportunity to evaluate his players, pick starters, dole out playing positions and design strategy before the regular season opens in earnest Aug. 30 against Blue Ridge in Lakeside.
White, a first year Life Science teacher, graduated from Payson High School in 1994. During his tenure at PHS, White was a standout basketball player who also excelled in swimming during the summer months as a member of the Payson Pikes swim team. Last summer, he was a lifeguard and co-manager at Taylor Pool.
White replaces Roger Wholly who was not rehired at the conclusion of last season.
Among White's first chores as head coach was to identify the veterans who could provide the all-important team leadership.
He's tapped Shane Tuer, Eric Lammers and A.J. Hilgendorf as the players most likely to lead.
Tuer, a senior, was an all region second team performer last season at the forward position.
White expects him to play the same position this year. Lammers, also a senior, will play defense and Hilgendorf is penciled in at the wing position.
The other returning letter winners include Chad Lammers (defense) Steven Hilgendorf (wing), David Hernandez (midfield), Aaron Lorffler (midfield), Nick Creighton (wing), Joey Sprinkle (goalie), Shane Crisp (forward) and Brandon Moratti (defense).
White also expects junior Anthony Pearce, a newcomer, to have an impact at the goalie position.
"He has a great attitude and awesome skills," the coach said.
In all, more than 30 players turned out for the team when practices began Aug. 7.
Of that crew, 13 were freshmen that White said, "All look to be very promising."
This year, the Longhorns will field a junior varsity team on which the freshmen will play.
In accessing his team, White calls leadership a strength but inexperience a weakness.
"But, we have good teamwork and great attitudes overall," he said. "Our goal will be to work together as a team and when that happens we will win."
Assisting White this year will be Jill Boston and Chad Gower.
Boston is a teacher at Rim Country Middle School and Gower is a first year history teacher at PHS.
-- To reach Max Foster call 474-5251 ext. 114 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.