The lip-smacking "All You Can Eat" spaghetti diners that have long helped fund the Longhorn wrestling program are rapidly becoming the stuff of which legends are made.
Most every Longhorn coach, fan, parent and player has enjoyed one or more of the meals and fondly remembers the good times associated with the annual benefit.
Longtime assistant wrestling coach and PHS counselor Don Heizer recalls the origins of the spaghetti dinners, about two decades ago.
"Dennis (Pirch, former PHS wrestling coach) and I were looking for ways to earn money so the kids could go to Disneyland during the Christmas vacation," he said.
"We came up with the spaghetti dinners. They earned good money, and we've never stopped doing them."
For the first dinner, Heizer and Pirch enlisted the cooking expertise of Pine Realtor Mark Fumusa, who had two sons on the team.
His two sons have long since departed PHS, but Fumusa continues to play a huge role in hosting the event.
For the next benefit dinner, which will be held 5 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 24 in the Rim Country Middle School cafeteria, Fumusa and his six volunteer assistants will spend the entire day cooking a spaghetti feast for the more than 500 people expected to attend.
The cooks will use about 110 pounds pounds of spaghetti noodles, 120 pounds of ground beef, four gallons of homemade salad dressing and 100 pounds of flour for homemade rolls prepared by Jacque Lee.
As delicious as the homemade meals are, they have become much more than an Italian dinner.
"It's a time and place where we can all gather and enjoy the fellowship of one another," Heizer said. "It's the type of things we can do in a small town."
The benefit also produces money the wrestling team uses for travel and to purchase equipment not available in the school's athletic budget.
Heizer estimates the dinners now earn more than $2,000 annually, thanks to donations of food items from the Mazatzal Casino, Bashas' and Safeway.
"Without the money earned at the dinners, we would not be able to do a lot of the things for kids we now do," Heizer said.
The coach also sees the dinners as events that benefit everyone.
"It's a win-win situation," he said. "The team earns the money it needs and the people get a great meal at a low price."
Tickets, which are available at the door or from any PHS wrestler, are $3 for children, $6 for adults and $20 for a family pass.
Tonto Apache gym Director Eric Pendleton hopes there are ample basketball players in the Rim Country to fill an upcoming eight-team 3-on-3 tournament.
The tournament will be played Jan. 19 in the Tonto Apache gymnasium, south of Payson. The fee is $30, cash only, and is open to the first eight teams to enter.
The tournament will feature a single elimination format, but the championship will be decided by a "best two-of-three" finale.
Prizes will be award to first and second place.
To enter or for more information, call Pendleton or Randy Pryor at (928) 978-0575.