The Friends and Neighbor (FAN) club, Payson High School spirit line and Longhorn football players have joined forces to achieve their goal of helping the less fortunate.
Their project centers on collecting food items to donate to the Pine Strawberry Food Bank which is operated out of the fire department. About 50 families, including several with young children, and a growing number of seniors, depend on the food bank for supplies. But shelves are bare, and some recipients must go short or be turned away.
The Pine Strawberry Fire District Web site hints at the problems the bank is experiencing.
It reads: "Donations are short, and they are running very low. Any help you can provide is appreciated."
Upon learning of the bank's dire straits, the football players, cheerleaders and FAN boosters came up with the idea of charging an admission of one can of food to the Horns' preseason scrimmage Aug. 22 against Camp Verde in PHS stadium. Kickoff is 5 p.m.
Collecting donations as admission is nothing new in high school football.
Years ago, a ticket to a scrimmage was a bar of soap which was used throughout the season for players' showers. Today, old timers continue to call preseason scrimmages "soap scrimmages."
What the FAN club, cheer squad and players generously did is change the admission donation from soap to food in an effort to help those in need in Pine and Strawberry.
Of course, official admission cannot be charged for Friday's scrimmage, but organizers are hoping fans, students, parents and boosters will step up to help those in need.
So, when you head out for Friday's gridiron showdown, take along at least one can of food -- more if possible -- to donate.
And if you see a football player, coach, cheerleader or FAN club member around town, give them a pat on the back for their decision to fight hunger and poverty in the Rim Country.
Demo derby on tap
The Third Annual Payson Demolition Derby, which is held in conjunction with the Northern Gila County Fair, begins at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 7 at the Payson Event Center.
Those who have taken in either of the first two derbies know they provided metal-crunching, bone-jarring, crashing, smashing action at its best.
"They are crazy, but the sportsmanship has always been good," Parks and Recreation's Nelson Beck said.
The competitions usually begin with a warm-up event in which drivers battle one another to see who can be the first one to drive over, and squash, a watermelon strategically placed in the middle of the arena.
Of course, the sponsors, which include Honeycutt Rodeo, Chapman Auto Center and Payson and Parks and Recreation, usually dole out prize money to the lucky watermelon destroyer.
In addition to the traditional demolition derby event that features 1970s and 80s full sized American cars outfitted to fit the rules, there will be a powder puff event for women.
Last year, first-ever lawn mower racers were held following the first heat of the derby.
Also, a trucks-only derby was held at the request of several local drivers. A truck prepared by Dan and Rob Shover at Coyote Auto did so well it was invited to participate in the automobile division.
Beck says that the truck division races will again be held this year.
The first two derbies were dominated by Mickey Reetz and Steven Quills who last year finished one and two respectively.
In 2006, Quills was first and Reetz second.
Beck is unsure whether the two Phoenix drivers will return again this year.
Among the Payson drivers, Brett Carnes has shown well, reaching the finals in 2007.
Beck is promising the upcoming derby will be better and bigger than ever, mostly because the promoters have more experience hosting them, the interest in Payson drivers is growing and fans of the sport are hooked.
"Rumors are there were will be more local cars, the Valley drivers are coming back and the stands will be full," he said. "It should be a great time."
Also on the agenda will be a specialty act featuring professional motorcycle jumpers.
Admission is $12 for adults and $5 for children 4 to 11 years. Children under four are free. For more information, call Beck at (928) 474-5242, ext. 268.