High school football coaches from around the state will huddle today (Friday) and Sunday to dole out some of the greatest honors prep football players may receive.
The accolades include all-state recognition and being named a participant in the annual Arizona Coaches Association North vs. South All-Star game.
The selections begin today at Mesa Country Club were designated representatives from each region in all the state's conferences will select all-state offensive and defensive players.
From the 3A conference, representatives will be Wickenburg's Norris Vaughn (West), Winslow's Rusty Robertson (North), Santa Cruz's Al Campo (South) and Blue Ridge's Paul Moro (East). Payson head coach Josh Anderson will also participate in the selections.
Anderson said he would nominate for all state the Longhorn players who received either first or second team All-East recognition.
That would include first team offensive selections Ridge Halenar, Nick Alexander and Matt Wilson.
PHS first-team defensive choices were David Carlen and Bryan Burke.
B. J. Hill and Nick Goodman were chosen to the second-team offense and Tyler Savage and Zack Brooks to the second-team defense.
Following the selection of the 3A's all-state players, the coaches reconvene two days later at Valley Vista High School to choose the players who will play in the prestigious ACA All-Star game.
Only seniors are eligible to participate in the celestial clash that is held each summer as part of the ACA convention.
"I will be nominating any seniors that are interested in playing in it, which we have a couple," Anderson said.
Payson has long had a rich tradition of being well represented in the all-star game.
The greatest number of Payson players chosen, four, was tapped in 1987.
They included Matt Rambo, Mark Velaso, Ty Chilson and Ty Goodman.
The players practiced for the game in Flagstaff, but the all-star clash was held in Prescott.
A year earlier, when players from all divisions, 1A through 5A, battled one another for playing positions, Curt Rambo and Mark Hanna represented PHS.
In 1983, Payson's 160-pound running back Greg Armstrong captured the attention of big school players and coaches alike by dominating practices and scrimmages on both sides of the ball.
Entering that game, players from smaller schools were almost an afterthought when compared to all-stars selected from Valley area and Tucson teams.
Following the 1986 game, which was the last one played at Northern Arizona University, the all-star clash was separated into big- and small-school division. The games have since been held at Eastern Arizona College, in Casa Grande and Surprise.
In 2006, PHS record-setting running back Luke Apfel was chosen the game's most valuable player.