Assembling home and away schedules for two basketball programs and a wrestling team has been the daunting challenge facing Payson High School athletic director Dave Bradley.
At midweek, while breathing a huge sigh of relief, Bradley said the schedules are about to be finalized and released to the public.
His secretary, Paty Henderson, warns, however, that the schedules are subject to change, especially if snow and inclement weather closes Rim Country highways, forcing games and matches to be rescheduled.
Two years ago, when PHS was a member of the 4A Grand Canyon region, almost two weeks of games -- mostly in Flagstaff -- were postponed due to hazardous road conditions.
They had to be replayed at the end of the season along with other games scheduled for that week.
It made for a hectic hardwood week.
In basketball, the freshmen, junior varsity and varsity boys and girls playing sites for home games have been settled.
Varsity girls games will be played at 6 p.m. in Wilson Dome. Varsity boys games will tip off at 7:30 p.m. in the dome.
Freshmen boys play at 6 p.m. in the old gym and freshman girls at 7:30 p.m. also in the old gym.
The playing sites that often confuse parents and fans involve jayvee games.
The junior varsity clashes will begin at 4:30 p.m. but the sites will flip-flop between the dome and old gymnasium.
If the junior varsity boys open the season Nov. 21 against Scottsdale Christian in the dome, their next home game -- Nov. 28 vs. Sedona -- will be in the gymnasium.
The alternating jayvee playing sites continue throughout the season.
The highlight of the Lady Longhorns home season will undoubtedly be the Holiday Hoops tournament played Dec. 29 and 30.
Each year, the tournament attracts 16 of the best teams from around the state regardless of school size classification.
Last year, the Lady Horns entered the holiday showdown as the defending champs but were upset in their effort to repeat 61-47 by Class 5A Scottsdale Desert Mountain.
First year coach Grant Coley has taken over the reins of the Lady Horn hoop program replacing Rory Huff who resigned last season after leading PHS to several state tournament appearances.
Pepsi-Cola Shoot Out
For the Longhorns, the highlight of the regular season could be Dec. 7 to 9 at the Pepsi-Cola Shoot Out in Flagstaff.
"It's a good tournament for us," coach Chuck Hardt said. "It has 4A teams and most of the good 3A ones."
The Horns also travel Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 and 2 to the Winslow Bulldog Invitational where they will run into reservation teams that play a thrilling run and gun offensive style.
Defensively, they usually press full court hoping to force opponents into turnovers.
Their style is exciting for spectators but can take a toll on foes.
The Longhorns will be trying to build on a 2005 state tournament finale that turned into the team's finest effort of the season.
Although PHS lost the state game 62-55 to No. 1 ranked Chandler Seton Catholic, the team's performance proved it had the athletes to play with the best in the 3A conference.
Particularly encouraging in the narrow loss was the effort of Carlos Lopez who scored a season high 17 points prompting Hardt to say, "Carlos went off. He brought lots of energy to the floor."
Lopez, a senior, returns to the lineup this season with an added year of maturity and experience. His presence should bode well for the Horns.
The wrestling team, which will be under the leadership of Dave LaMotte who replaced Rich Ormand last spring, is entered in two big time tournaments. The Green Valley Duals will be contested Dec. 1 and 2 near Las Vegas, Nev. and the prestigious Tournament of Champions held Jan. 5 and 6 in Peoria.
At the 2005 Tournament of Champions, the Horns produced four medal winners -- Porter Wilbanks, Steel Armstrong, Lee Perez and Tyler Goodman.
From that foursome, only Wilbanks is on the 2006-2007 Horn roster.
Perez and Goodman graduated and Armstrong transferred to Blue Ridge High School in the fall.
At the 2005 Green Valley Duals, the Longhorns grappled to a 5-2 record against some of the finest teams from Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and California.
LaMotte said he expects the same top-notch competition to show up for the 2006 edition of the tournament.
Admission this year will remain the same -- $5 for adults and $4 for students. Passes are available.
There will be no admission charged for the Rim Country Duals (Dec. 15 and 16) or the Tim Van Horn Invitational (Jan. 19 and 20).
Call Henderson at (928) 472-5719 for more information.