Time To Honor State Champs Of 1981


When old-timers gather, the conversation often turns into a debate over which of Payson High School state championship teams -- the 1981 edition or the 1998 crew -- was better.

That friendly dispute will rage on forever, but there is one certainty about the 1981 team no one can deny.

It's been 25 years since they won the title and it's time for the Arizona Interscholastic Association to honor the champions.

That will be done during halftime of the Class 3A state championship game, which kicks off at 4 p.m. Nov. 24 in Sun Devil Stadium on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe.

When Payson High won the state title, it was a Class B team, but because the Longhorns are now members of the 3A conference, the ceremonies will take place during the 3A title game.

Then coach, Terry Nodlinski -- now the athletic director at Yuma Catholic High School -- plans to be in attendance at the game.

"I am looking forward to it," he said. "I hope as many players as possible show up.

"I know (the players) are scattered all over the country and only a few still live in Payson."

Arizona Interscholastic Association Sports Information Director and Special Projects Coordinator Brian Bolitho and Nodlinski have asked me, Max Foster, to be the contact person for those former players who plan to attend the ceremonies.

"That will help me in creating certificates, entry lists to the game and the public address announcement during halftime," Bolitho said. "Each team member will get in, free of charge, along with his or her families."

At first, I was a bit taken aback about serving as a contact person.

After all, I was on the receiving end of one of the 1981 team's good old-fashioned butt kickings.

As a coach in Show Low, we lost the 1981 season opener 39-14 to Payson. Following that win, the Horns went on to steamroll their way to an undefeated season and the state title.

I remember driving with my wife to Payson from Show Low to scout the team in a preseason soap scrimmage.

I left impressed and convinced the Longhorns were a state championship caliber team.

In the scrimmage, star running back Tom Fruth's ball carrying feats dazzled everyone in attendance, including me. I was sure, that season, he would become among the best in the state.

My evaluation turned out to be on target when he went on to rush for 2,128 yards and earn a berth in the Arizona Coaches Association North vs. South All-Star game.

While Bolitho and the coach's request caught me a little off-guard, I told them I would serve as the contact person for the 25th reunion.

If you are planning to attend, call me at (928) 474-5251, ext. 115 or e-mail mfoster@payson.com.

I will put your name on the guest list and relay that information to the AIA.

Also, if you know the whereabouts of any of your former teammates, please contact them about the reunion.

Team members were Gary Weir, Steve Vick, Duke Phillips, Keith Martin, Tim Dudley, Craig Gibson, Roger Templeton, Rocky Klabbatz, Trent Brock, Boy Kayona, Moose Dryer, Bob Halenar, Scott Levario, Jeff Treubner, Bill Thompson, Tim Stellino, Darrin Keith, Mike Popeck, David Blalock, Brent Landers, Mitch Straw, Louis Scott, Troy Goodman, Greg Armstrong, Shaun Hardt, Jay Armer, Tom Fruth, Shawn Herring, Jerry Harris, David Dudley and coaches Chuck Hardt and Nodlinski. Managers were Kristi Nodlinski, Julie Popeck, Marie Ralston and Dee Dee Armer.

Little League meets

Payson Little League will be holding a general public meeting for the 2007 baseball season on Wednesday, Nov. 1, at 6 p.m. in the Arizona Public Service conference room. The meeting is open to the public.

The purpose of the meeting will be to accept nominations for board members, identify volunteers for work committees, and gather public input for the 2007 season.

Board member positions include president, vice president, safety officer, league director, player agent, treasurer, secretary, and equipment manager. Little League is operated entirely by volunteers.

In addition to board member positions, there will be subcommittees with positions that need to be filled for such things as fund-raising.

If you would like to participate in planning another successful baseball season or would like to provide input for improvements to Little League baseball, or plan on coaching or umpiring during the 2007 Little League season, you should attend this meeting.

Varsity only

The Lady Longhorn volleyball team's regular season ending match against Fountain Hills will be a varsity clash only.

Game time is 6 p.m. today, Tuesday, in Wilson Dome.

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