The world of high school football lost a legend and a true gentleman Sunday with the death of 74-year-old Earl "Tiny" Putman.
The 6-foot-6-inch, 300-pound Putman, a former professional player with the New York Giants and Chicago Cardinals, had been battling brain cancer.
Members of the 1986 Longhorn football team remember Putman as the coach who visited their preseason football camp at Cline's Meadow in Star Valley.
While the players and coaches were sequestered in the camp, Putman was on hand to offer a bit of the expertise he picked up in the professional ranks and while coaching the Moon Valley Rockets to 167 victories and the 1981 Class 3A state championship. After visiting the remote and rustic Longhorn camp -- which Putman glowingly characterized as a great way to train teenage players away from the distractions of cars and girls -- he went on to lead Moon Valley to the Class 3A 1986 state runner up title.
Ironically, the 1986 Payson team also finished as a state runner-up but in the Class A conference.
Putman was the Rocket's first coach when Moon Valley opened in 1965 and continued there until he retired after the 1989 season. He was also active in the Arizona Coaches Association, helping put on numerous all-star games and other activities.
Putman went to Arizona State in the 1950s on a track scholarship but ended up playing football and was drafted by the Giants as a center.If memory serves me, coach Putman told the 1986 Longhorn team he had played for Vince Lombardi when the legendary coach was an assistant with the New York Giants.
I first met coach Putman in 1983 at a Glendale Community College football clinic.
We were both there to learn more about the Wing-T offense GCC was then using.
The first thing one noticed about coach Putman -- other than his size -- were his feet. He wore something-like size 16 EEEE shoes.
Staring down at his leather coaching sneakers, I remember wanting to make some smart aleck remark about how many cows must have died to make him one pair of shoes.
But on second thought, common sense got the better of me and I kept my mouth closed.
He was a gentle giant, but he was a giant capable of causing extreme harm.
In the coaching fraternity, coach Putman had a reputation as an outstanding coach, a standup man and a class act.
He and his wife, Vivian, who he met at Arizona State were married for 53 years. They had four children, 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Funeral Services will be 10 a.m. tomorrow at Lakeside United Methodist Church in Sun City.
Last chance for Little League
A final Little League registration, along with team tryouts, will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday on the Rumsey South multipurpose field.
The fee is $60 for the first child in a family and $55 for each additional sibling. Parents will be asked to volunteer in some form during the 2006 season.
Tryouts are mandatory for players 9 years of age and older hoping to play in the majors division.
Team practices will begin after the tryouts and the season tip off in April.
Call Linda Schreur at (928) 472-9331 for more information.
Basketball is great stuff
The second Annual Basketball Bonanza will give aspiring players a stage to brandish what they have learned in pickup games and at the backyard hoop.
The competition, sponsored by the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Parks and Recreation Association and the Payson Parks and Recreation Department, tips off at 9 a.m. Saturday in the Payson High School gymnasium.
"This is a great opportunity for boys and girls to show off their skills ..." said Charlene Hunt, recreation specialist for the Payson Parks and Recreation Department.
The event is open, free of charge, to both boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 14.
In the competition, boys and girls will participate in one of six age/gender divisions: 9-10 years; 11-12 years; and 13-14 years.
In the local competition, players can compete in one or all three basketball contests -- free throw, hot shot and three-point shootout.