Payson High School's decades-long reputation as a solid contributor to the annual Arizona Coaches Association North vs. South All-Star football game remains intact.
The Horns kept their gridiron status alive and well at a meeting last week of ACA members charged with selecting players and coaches who will participate in the postseason celestial clash that pits the best graduating seniors in Arizona against one another.
From Payson, fullback Nick Alexander was chosen a member of the 1A-3A North all-stars.
Also for PHS, second-year coach Josh Anderson was originally named the North head coach.
"But, I demoted myself to be an assistant again this year," said Anderson, who last summer was a North assistant coach.
Anderson said he opted to step down from head coaching duties because, "I want to make sure I have some experience as an assistant first, so I know how things are supposed to be run, as well as what to expect."
His decision, to turn the head coaching reins over to another coach, doesn't mean he doesn't harbor aspirations to someday be at the helm of a star team.
"I would like eventually to be the head coach of the all-star game," he said.
Joining Anderson on the coaching staff will be Show Low's Randy Reisdorf, who led the Cougars last fall to the Class 3A state title.
The selection of Alexander to the all-star game marks the culmination of a senior season in which the hard charging fullback was also named to the All-East region and Class 3A All-state first teams.
Anderson called Alexander's selection a fitting tribute to a gutsy player who wasn't supposed to play this season, due to a series of concussions he suffered earlier in his football career.
The 5-foot, 8-inch, 195-pound Alexander, however, put his previous maladies aside long enough to become one of the finest fullbacks in the state.
Running mostly dives and traps between the tackles where real estate can be hard to come by, Alexander finished with 925 yards on 127 carries and nine TDs. His average of 7.28 yards per carry was among the best marks in the East.
His finest game was the 227 yards he racked up in the 23-3 win over Winslow. One week later in a 48-7 victory over Florence 48-7, Alexander rushed for 141 yards. Also, in 11 games of churning out tough yardage, he fumbled only once.
"He was the perfect smash-mouth fullback in our power-option offense," Anderson said. "He could drag a pile (of tacklers) with him."
Although the ACA members completed their task of selecting players and coaches for the all-star team, the coaches were not able to decide on a playing date.
"We thought about the first weekend in June but there could be a conflict so we are looking at the second weekend of that month," Anderson said. "We'll decide soon."
The game will be played for the third consecutive year at the Surprise Sports Complex in the West Valley, which is actually the spring training home of the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals.
Last year, Payson was represented in the all-star game by tight end Zac Miller and Anderson. Two years ago, ex-Horn running back Luke Apfel was named the game's most valuable player after rushing for 123 yards and a touchdown.