Coaching Staff Set For Spring Sports

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Coaching staffs have been set for the Payson High School spring sports of track and field, baseball, softball and golf.

Extracurricular contracts for the 14 head and assistant coaches were accepted at yesterday's school board meeting.

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Former Longhorn pitching star David Daniels (left), son of PHS baseball coach Jerry Daniels, could again be on the coaching staff to help mold Longhorn pitchers.

In track, longtime coach Chuck Hardt returns to head a veteran staff that includes Kenny Hayes, Chuck Yale, Bo Althoff and Dan Sweitzer.

Also approved was Margine Bowden, who is a newcomer to the staff.

Hayes has coached for the past three seasons. Yale is a retired coach from New York, and Althoff was a former PHS star in the pole vault.

Sweitzer has coached some of the Longhorns' finest athletes in the shot put and discus.

The staff is virtually the same crew that, last spring, helped the Longhorns win the 2006 Class 3A boys state championship.

In baseball, Jerry Daniels returns to lead a team that could have the pitching, hitting and defense to make a run at a 3A East championship.

On Daniels' staff will be junior varsity coach Brian Young and freshman coach Joe LaSalandra.

Daniels brings to his position years of experience having coached football, girls basketball and, for the past two seasons, the varsity baseball team.

Last year, the Longhorns finished 14-12 overall, were second in the final East region standings and earned a berth to the state tournament. There, the Horns were ousted by a first round 6-0 loss to Sahuarita.

In softball, second-year coach Curtis Johnson has returned with a new staff that includes junior varsity coach Lee Ann Owens and freshman coach Amanda Finkler.

Owens is no stranger to the Lady Horn softball program, having starred on the team during her days at PHS.

Last year, Curtis led the Lady Longhorns to a state semifinal berth where the team was eliminated by a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to the Florence Gophers.

In the regular season, the Lady Horns finished third in the final East standings.

Linksters who turn out for the Horn golf team will find no surprises on the coaching staff.

The father-and-son coaching team of Bret and Denny Morris are two of the school's most accomplished coaches, having led the Horns to numerous regional titles, a 2001 state championship and a runner-up finish the following year.

Spring sports practices tipped off two weeks ago and regular season games begin this week.

Baseball and softball are first on the agenda with home games today, Tuesday, against Sedona. Game times are 3:30 p.m.

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