Summer passing league action, often one of the keys to a successful fall season, has wrapped up for the Longhorn football team.
Play culminated June 28 at a 7-on-7 tournament held in Surprise.
There, the Horns opened in a round robin against Glendale Independence, Deer Valley, Moon Valley and Shadow Mountain.
Payson finished 3-1, losing only to Independence.
Payson's slate propelled the Longhorns into an evening double-elimination tournament as a No. 9 team in a field of 26.
"We lost right away to Independence again," coach Josh Anderson said. "Then we beat Copper Canyon but lost our final game to Dysart."
All of the opponents the Horns took on in the passing skirmish were Class 4A and 5A teams.
"We were the only 3A team and there was one 2A, but we never played them," Anderson said.
Although Payson's big-school foes were a huge obstacle to overcome, the searing desert heat also played a role in the outcome of the games.
"Our biggest issue was the heat, especially with so few kids to substitute," Anderson said. "That meant drinking a lot of water in between plays.
"The boys had some tough moments but regrouped and stuck together well."
Only 11 players made the trip, which meant Anderson, had just four replacements on his bench to use as substitutes for tired or dehydrated athletes.
"In the three tournaments we've had this year, we never have been able to put a full team together," the coach said. "Which meant a lot of guys had to play positions they are not going to play during the regular season, and we still did very well."
Following the team's return to Payson, Anderson lauded those who made the trips to the tournaments.
"I'm very pleased with the kids that made an effort to get up early and come with their teammates, with the idea of making their team better and not just themselves," he said. "We really have a special group of kids and I sincerely hope the rest of the crew can follow their lead when it really counts."
Anderson also thanked the parents who helped take the players to the tournaments and for "getting them to weights (training) in the mornings."
Next up for the team is a summer camp July 21 to 25. Registration is at 9 a.m. July 21 in Wilson Dome.
The camp is open to aspiring players who will be in grades 9 to 12 next school year.
Also on the gridiron front, Anderson is beginning an alumni association open to all former PHS players and coaches.
He's asking that those eligible for the alumni group e-mail him their names, addresses and years played or coached.
His e-mail is email@example.com.
"It's time to start including past players into our program," he said.
Also, Anderson said the final tabulations are in for the Credit for Kids fund-raisers the players took part in during the spring.
"So far, 62 people have donated just over $7,000," he said. "All the money has gone into paying for summer camps, shirts, shorts, and into the weight room."