The Class 3A conference must shoulder some of the blame for East region athletic directors' inability to fill their 10 game football schedules.
That's because, the conference turns game schedule-making duties over to the individual athletic directors, rather than scheduling all 3A games themselves, as is done in the 4A and 5A conferences.
If the 3A conference took over scheduling, it would render the task much simpler and easier than what is now occurring with individual school athletic directors scrambling to find games.
Conference officials could meet once each year to design a master schedule for all 28 schools. Those could then be turned over to the 3A schools to be used for each two-year block. The system works in the National Football League and National Basketball Association. Why not high school?
The way scheduling is now done, each school's athletic director, often with input from coaches, must individually contact other athletic directors from opposing schools and try to find a playing date agreeable to both.
It is a time-consuming and nearly impossible task.
A reality in high school sports is often one school doesn't want to play another, for a variety for reasons.
For example, St. Johns and Blue Ridge refuse to schedule one another in football.
If athletic directors cannot find enough non-region games in the 3A ranks, they go looking for games in the 2A conference or possibly 4A.
Former Payson High School athletic director Tim Fruth has called the 3A scheduling process, especially in football, "very stressful."
The answer is master schedules, compiled by the conference, which include games mostly between 3A teams.
Whether conference officials will step up and take over those responsibilities is a huge question.
Little Leaguers to state
The schedule for the Payson 9/10-year-old Little League All-Star team's appearance in the state tournament has changed.
The new schedule:
July 16 -- 5:30 p.m. vs. Mesa
July 18 -- 7:45 p.m.vs. So. Tucson
July 19 -- 7:45 p.m. vs. Douglas/Bisbee
July 23 -- 5:30 p.m. vs. Arrowhead
State semifinal championship games will be played July 24 at 7 p.m. and the state championship held at 7 p.m. July 25.
The state tournament will be hosted by Shadow Mountain Little League and all games played at Shea Middle School, 2700 East Shea Blvd. in Phoenix.
PATS on deck
A scenic and safe pathway will wind through Payson when the Payson Area Trails System becomes a reality.
Payson Parks and Recreation Coordinator Mary McMullen is unsure when the trails will be finished but she's working diligently to acquire the funds needed for the ambitious project.
"Funding is the key to success," she said.
The Payson Town Council approved PATS at a March meeting and the Parks and Recreation Department is now accepting sponsor donations.
Sponsors can choose to donate any amount from $100 to $10,000.
The $10,000 donors, or Platinum Sponsors, will have their name(s) and/or company logo displayed on all signs in the quarter-mile trail sections they select. The sponsors will also receive recognition on the PATS Web site and other advertisements.
Other donor amounts are $3,500 (Gold Sponsors), $2,000 (Silver Sponsor), $1,000 (Bronze Sponsors), $250 to $1,000 (Cyclist Sponsors) or $100 (Patron Brick).
Also, Trailblazer Sponsors may donate $100 in labor or equivalent in materials.
Money collected will not only be used to build the trails, but also to purchase kiosks, bike racks and benches.
The kiosks and benches will be placed at centers of interest on the trails.
Four centers have been chosen -- Sawmill Crossing, Green Valley Park, Rumsey Park and Gila Community College.
The system will incorporate the Payson firebreak as the outer wheel of the network.
Trails will run through town like spokes connecting the firebreak wheel. Motorized vehicles will not be permitted on the trails. According to McMullen, the trails will be pieced together over time and certain sections finished before others.
Some of the funding could come from the Arizona Parks Board after the Payson Parks and Recreation Department submits the trails plan.
The town has received support from the project from Payson District Ranger Ed Armenta.
For more about the project or to become a sponsor, call McMullen at (928) 474-5242.