Even the Arizona Cardinals are recognizing the accomplishments of the Longhorn football team.
The acknowledgement arrived this week in the form of an e-mail from Cards Community Relations officer Adam Richman.
It read, “The Arizona Cardinals would like to invite the 3A State Champion Football Team, the Payson Longhorns, to our annual presentation … at University of Phoenix Stadium on Dec. 28 to enjoy some festivities and watch as your Arizona Cardinals take on the Seattle Seahawks.”
Richman also wrote that the Payson players will participate in an on-field presentation slate to include the Cardinals players and coaches of the week.
“It is always a fantastic time and always puts an exclamation point on the end of a great championship run,” Richman wrote.
To be eligible to participate, Longhorn players must ride on a district school bus to the stadium.
The time the bus is to depart will be announced later.
Richman has asked the team to be at the Glendale stadium at 11 a.m.
Coach Josh Anderson will not participate because he will be on a family holiday vacation in South Dakota.
“Bummer for me, but I hope you all enjoy yourselves,” he said
In his absence, athletic director Jason Lobik and assistant principal Tim Fruth will escort the players to the game.
Also included in the invitation is the spirit line and coach Kristi Ford. The group provided enthusiastic cheer, inspiration and support throughout the season, especially in the dramatic state title game.
The Payson vs. Sedona basketball games originally scheduled for Dec. 16 were postponed due to poor road conditions as a result of the snow that fell at the higher elevations that day.
The Lady Longhorns were to play in Sedona and the Sedona boys team was scheduled to travel to Payson.
Boys coach Kenny Hayes said the non-region games would be made up, but the date has yet to be settled on.
Since Sedona does not field freshmen hoop teams, only jayvee and varsity games will be played.
The Lady Longhorns are competing this weekend in the Winslow Invitational Tournament and the boys team is off until Dec. 29 when it travels to Bradshaw Mountain for a three-day tournament.
Some in the White Mountain communities are finding it strange that region coaches selected three quarterbacks to the All-East first team.
They argue that only one signal caller should be selected and having three diminishes the honor for the one who is truly deserving.
But no one, no matter what their football expertise could accurately say one quarterback was more deserving than the other two.
Payson’s Ridge Halenar, Blue Ridge’s Dustin Simmons and Round Valley’s Hayden Eagar all had their individual strengths and the trio led their teams to highly successful seasons.
The three were deserving of first team honors and should not be relegated to a lower selection simply because the East, this season, featured a wealth of quarterback talent.