Mason Dacanay (left) and Shaffer Keith (right) both returning starters for the Longhorns, practice their offensive line skills techniques. The two are expected to anchor PHS’s defensive and offensive lines next season.
Two-a-days are the bane of every high school football player.
Three-a-days are absolutely brutal.
But that’s what has been happening this past week at Payson High School where almost 200 prep players from around the state gathered for a preseason camp.
The players practiced twice each day, once in the morning and again later in the afternoon.
During the evenings, after the dinner hour, they returned to the fields, including two at Rumsey Park, for 7-on-7 or “Passing League” practice scrimmages.
In addition to three grueling outdoor practice sessions, the players had classroom lessons to learn the nuances of the coaching staff’s strategy for the upcoming season.
Throughout the week, players bedded down in Payson High School gym and classrooms on cots, mattresses and bedrolls they brought along with them. Meals were served in the school’s cafeteria.
Joining the Longhorn contingent in the camp were teams from Casa Grande, Dysart and Sunrise Mountain.
Valley Vista High held its preseason sessions at Camp Tontozona near Kohl’s Ranch, but traveled in each evening to join in on 7-on-7 sessions.
On hand to assist at the camp were a handful of graduated players from last year’s PHS state championship team.
The preseason training camps are nothing new at Payson High. During former coach Josh Anderson’s three-year tenure, he traditionally held the camps on the PHS campus calling them crucial to the success of the football team.
Previous coaches held Horn football camps at Cline’s Meadow in Star Valley, Tonto Natural Bridge and Pine-Strawberry School.
For the 2009 camp, the team is under the direction of Matt Mayo who replaced Anderson after he resigned last season to become head coach at Dakota State University.
Although Mayo has no head coaching experience, he spent the past two seasons as a running backs and linebackers position coach at Goodyear Desert Edge High School.
Prior to that stint, he spent two seasons as a defensive line and running backs coach at Chandler Seton High School. There, he was also the junior varsity head coach, an equipment manager and video coordinator.