Payson Loses One More Coach

Advertisement

Yet another head coach has resigned at Payson High School.

Lady Longhorn basketball coach Rory Huff turned in his resignation last week saying he wanted to have the free time -- away from coaching -- to watch his son, Miles, compete in football and basketball his senior season at PHS.

photo

After three years at the helm of the Lady Longhorn basketball program, Rory Huff is stepping down.

Rory Huff also said he wanted to be able to travel to Phoenix to watch his daughter, Haylee, a basketball player at Grand Canyon University.

In stepping down, Huff lauded his former players.

"I've had the opportunity to coach some of the neatest kids around," he said.

The former coach also offered to help out during the transition to a new coach.

"If I'm needed, I'll be there," he said.

During his three-year stint as the Lady Longhorn's head coach, Huff built a reputation in the coaching ranks as a tireless worker.

A year ago, a day after having surgery, Huff showed up in Wilson dome primed and ready to practice his players for an upcoming crucial game.

In obvious pain and discomfort, he refused advice from others to go home and allow assistant coaches to take over.

At the time, he said only, "It's my job to be here."

In addition to his coaching duties, Huff shouldered a huge fund-raising burden to raise the money needed to build and maintain a first-class program.

In January 2005, Huff was chosen one of the Payson Roundup's "People of Influence."

In his comments, he said, "Sports kept me in school. I hope I can keep other kids in school.

"If sports are done right, it's a good reflection on the community."

Huff also described how he met his responsibilities of raising a family while also being a varsity basketball coach, a real estate broker and football official.

"You just learn to manage," he said. "I would like to think I'm a role model."

Last season, Huff led the Lady Horns to a 16-17 record, a fourth-place finish in the East region final standings and a berth into the state tournament.

For the team, the season ended Feb. 15 in Flagstaff following a 48-17 loss to powerful Chandler Seton.

Payson entered the postseason as the East region's No. 4 seed, pitted against the state-ranked Sentinels who represented the South's No. 1 seed.

In stepping down, Huff leaves the cupboard well stocked with returning veterans, including freshman standouts Kayla O'Donnell, Christina Deaton and Cydney Figueroa.

The three figure to be fixtures in the Lady Horn lineup for years to come.

The highlight of the 2005-2006 season for Huff and the Lady Horns might have been a Feb. 8 East regional tournament 41-40 win over the home-standing Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets.

The upset in Lakeside helped the Lady Horns achieve their season-long goal of a berth into the postseason.

"Going in there and taking one on their home court was tremendous," Huff said.

When he took over the Lady Longhorn coaching reins in the fall of 2003, Huff brought with him the experience of serving three years as the junior varsity Lady Longhorn basketball coach, one season at the helm of the eighth-grade boys basketball program and one year as the Rim Country Middle School eighth-grade football coach.

He also coached three seasons in Payson youth football and basketball programs.

Huff's coaching career began in 1983 in Montana. There, he coached eighth grade, freshmen and junior varsity boys and girls soccer and basketball.

During his high school years in Montana, he played both football and basketball.

He also played football at Eastern Montana University where he graduated with a degree in education.

Before moving to Payson where he now works in real estate, he was a cattle rancher in Montana.

Huff is the fifth PHS head coach to step down in less than a year.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.