Anyone who has doubts about Payson High School teachers and coaches being on the alert to prevent violence from occurring should have been on the visitors' sidelines at Friday night's football game.
As the Longhorns and their coaches left the field at halftime walking west toward the old PHS gymnasium and their locker room, defensive coordinator and social studies teacher Kenny Hayes noticed a group of Payson students making their way toward the Fountain Hills stands.
Probably knowing nothing good could come from the situation, Hayes immediately walked over to the students, admonished them, and told them to return to the Payson side of the field. They complied immediately with his request and returned to the north stands.
A confrontation of sorts was probably averted by Hayes' act.
It is that type of teacher/coach diligence that keeps the campus safe and secure for all students.
The unfortunate stabbing incident that occurred last week off campus should in no way tarnish the efforts teachers, coaches and administrations put forth each day to ensure a safe learning environment at PHS.
East on the rise
For the past 30 years, the East has been the toughest and most competitive region in the 3A conference, if not the state.
Last season, East teams struggled a bit and none reached the state title game.
But, guess what?
The Beasts of the East are back.
Evidence of the resurgence exists in the results of season opening games played Aug. 24.
In clashes involving East teams, the region was 4-0 against the South and 2-0 verses the North.
Biggest upset of the evening might have occurred in Round Valley where the Elks derailed two-time defending state champion and No. 1 ranked Coolidge 21-14.
Blue Ridge thoroughly dismantled the Safford Bulldogs 58-3, Snowflake battered Winslow 42-3 and Show Low caged the Globe Tigers, 34-0.
Even Alchesay, which is usually the region doormat won, beating Window Rock 36-6.
And of course our Longhorns beat touted Fountain Hills 28-9.
In Payson's win, the players came out fired up partly because of the lack or recognition the team has received as of late and the accolades that have been heaped on FH quarterback Jason Fairfield.
About the Horns, coach Josh Anderson said, "We came out with a mission to start the game...nobody has talked about us and the hype was all on Fountain Hills and Jason Fairfield.
"We knew about Jason and how good a QB he is but we knew were better than Fountain Hills.
"The first half domination on offense, defense and special teams was a reflection of our frustrations."
Anderson also believes the point differential would have been even greater in the 28-19 win had the team not lost "key players during what seemed to be key times in the game.
"That resulted in penalties and mental mistakes our starters didn't seem to make in the first half."
The bottom line in season opening results is that the East will once again be a rough-and-tumble region that could send two qualifiers into the state championship and seed as many as five teams into the 3A tournament.