It Takes A Town To Support A State Champ


By the time I write my next column our pursuit of the football state championship will be over — win, lose or draw.

As I walked up and down the field during last Saturday’s quarterfinal win against Snowflake, I was astounded at the number of Payson folks in the Mesa High School stands. Surely this merits some “ink” on community support.

During my 36 years in Payson I have experienced incalculable pride in the way this community supports young people. Our football success this year is no exception. Behind the scenes are numerous individuals and entities that lend their commitment and expertise to motivate kids, reward kids and keep them healthy. Not the least of these is Payson Regional Medical Center (PRMC) and CEO Chris Wolf.

Prevention and treatment of injuries is a major concern for all athletic programs. PRMC has reached out to partner with Payson High School providing a full-time certified trainer and consultation with an orthopedic surgeon.

As a result, when our athletes experience an injury, they are given proper attention from the outset. Without a doubt, this shortens the time that the athlete can safely return to competition.

Another outstanding benefit is a “student trainer” program where our students who aspire to become trainers, learn basic anatomy, initial treatment, taping and follow-up care of injuries. How many high school students do you suppose have the privilege of training under a certified trainer and an orthopedic surgeon?

I can assure you, not many. It happens here in little Payson.

Strength training plays a major role in preventing injuries. Once again, PRMC has helped us keep our strength and conditioning facilities open during the summer months as athletes prepare for a year of competition.

Another community example is that of Scott Nossek with Payson Physical Therapy. Scott, a high-level athlete himself, has spent numerous hours testing our athletes for muscle/joint speed and strength.

This baseline data has been invaluable in evaluating whether athletes are ready return to competition. Additionally, we would like to link this with our HOSA Club (Health Occupations Students of America) to keep longitudinal strength, speed/conditioning data on our athletes as they move through Payson High School.

This is exciting stuff from an athletic standpoint, but also from an academic research standpoint.

While I have been focusing on the medical partnerships, this in no way diminishes the significance of the many other individuals, businesses and entities that have reached out to support our kids. Anderson Dental supplied mouthpieces, the FAN Club donates an incredible amount of time and funding to all extra-curricular programs as does the Mogollon Sporting Association.

Dr. Olivia Morris is on the sideline at every game and Dr. John Vandruff has been on the sideline every game for the last 10-plus years! The Mom’s Club feeds all those “horses” the night before games. Bill Brandt does highlights for

Troy Ford of Payson Eye Care spends hours and hours filming games for the coaches. The Mazatzal Casino provides facilities and — you name it. KMOG puts games on the air for folks who can’t travel. Our local papers give great coverage. However, Max Foster of the Roundup consistently goes above and beyond with this knowledge of high school football history and football in general.

Arizona Public Service takes care of our stadium lights each year and the guys from Chapman Auto even bought their own down marker equipment to serve each home game as the “chain-gang.”

I know I could never make a list without leaving someone out.

There are many other people who have contributed and continue to contribute to our many and varied programs. One thing is for sure: When … and I’m going to go out on the limb of optimism here … that championship is won — it will be a tribute to the support from the whole town of Payson. Go Longhorns!

Don’t forget to check out the Payson High School Web site at or Google “payson high school, az” for what’s going on at Payson High. I hope to see you at Paradise Valley High School, this Saturday, 7 p.m. for the semifinal matchup against undefeated Wickenburg.


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