Softball Coach Resigns, Replaced

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Payson High School varsity softball coach Curtis Johnson resigned March 21, effective immediately.

Interim athletic director Tim Fruth appointed former varsity coach Will Dunman as his replacement for the remainder of the season.

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Curtis Johnson

Johnson said he was resigning for personal reasons.

"I have known Curtis for many years and know that his decision was difficult and he will be missed," Fruth said in a press release. "I am confident that Coach Dunman will be able to rally the girls and build upon the fine season that Coach Johnson and the players are having."

Dunman, who was the varsity coach prior to Johnson taking over last season, left coaching to focus on his job as principal of Payson Elementary School. He accepted the position of interim head coach on very short notice, he said.

"They called me after practice and said, ‘You have a game tomorrow if you're willing to coach again.'"

Johnson led the Lady Horns to the state semifinals last year in his first season as head coach and guided the Lady Horns to a record of 8-4-2 in the first part of this season before he left the team.

Under Dunman, the team's record has dropped to 10-9-2 after a brutal Gracie Haught tournament that saw only one win in six games for the Lady Horns.

The poor performance by the Lady Horns can be partially attributed to the external distractions brought on by the coaching change, Dunman said.

"It was rough," he said. "We're going to drill it hard and keep going over the situations and keep practicing."

Upon his departure, Johnson said that he has high hopes for the season and expects his team to make another run at a state title.

"The season is shaping up to be a very good one and they should be in the thick of the 3A East race," Johnson said of his former team. "The team continues to improve and our veteran players are showing good leadership, and the younger players are showing great strides."

Scott Crabdree, whose daughter is on the team, said that he thinks the team will eventually benefit from the coaching switch.

"I think it's a positive change," he said. "Will Dunman is a good coach."

Johnson's resignation follows a string of coaching exodus for PHS. Last March, wrestling coach Rich Ormand tendered his resignation. That same year, soccer coach Roger Wholly was fired and football coach Jerry Rhoades was told his contract would not be renewed.

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