Off-Season Quest Takes Horns To Asu

Payson team members compete in Big Man challenges and


The off season quest to build a state championship caliber football team at Payson High continued June 4 on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe.

There, Longhorn coach Josh Anderson entered teams in both a Sun Devil passing tournament and "Big Man" challenges.


Longhorn football coaches took a group of athletes to Arizona State University in Tempe June 4 to participate in a passing tournament and Big Man competitions. The Payson contingent compiled an unofficial tournament record of 5-1 against teams from Prescott, Round Valley, Cienega, Gila Ridge, Mountain Pointe and Raymond Kellis. Payson's "Big Men" finished third out of 18 teams in the brutal tug of war contest.

"We only had five boys compete (in the Big Man challenges) but they got seventh out of 18 teams," Anderson said. "They actually got third in the final event, the tug of war, which is hardest of them all, and shows brute strength."

Representing PHS in the linemen's competition were Bryan Burke, Matt Wilson, Logan Garner, Schaffer Keith and Nick Walker.

"A freshman, Cody Jordan, also came along to watch how things are done in that arena," Anderson said.

Of the prospective linemen who competed at ASU, Burke drew the most attention from Sun Devil coaches.

"They seemed to take a liking to him as he was also in a three-day camp leading up to the events," Anderson said.

Burke, who is 6-foot, 5-inches and 215 pounds, was a two-way all region tackle/end last season.

The passing league at the ASU camp was conducted differently than most frays the Longhorns attend in that no points were officially kept.

"Except in our own heads," Anderson said. "We played a total of six games and did very well with the athletes we had.

"We had to mix and match kids into different positions due to some kids not being able to make it with us."

Unofficially, the team compiled a 5-1 record during the tournament.

Their foes included Prescott, Round Valley, Cienega, Gila Ridge, Mountain Pointe and Raymond Kellis.

Among those participating in the tournament were Ridge Halenar, Shane Keith, Cody York, David Carlen, Nick Goodman, Max Johnson, Nick Johnson, Jeff Day, Brandon Alexander, Cliff Lopez, Westin Gibson, Payson Herring and Cody Sexton.

"Our goal was accomplished because everybody got to participate and everybody had fun," Anderson said.

Next up for the summer gridders is weight training sessions held 6 to 8:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday.

The session will continue until July 31.

The Payson Summer Football Camp, for players in third through eighth grade will be held 5 to 7 p.m. June 26 and 27.

The camp, which is co-sponsored by the town parks and recreation department, is an opportunity "to learn the secrets of Longhorn football and get coached by high school coaches and players," Anderson said.

The camp fee is $40.

Call (928) 474-5242, ext. 7 for more information.

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