Rim Country sports faithful will soon have one final opportunity to cheer the core of prep football players who set Arizona on its face mask last season winning the 3A state championship.
The chance begins at 7 p.m., Friday, June 12 in Surprise Stadium, the spring training home of pro baseball’s Texas Rangers.
There, 32 of the state’s finest players — including Payson’s Bryan Burke, David Carlen, Matt Wilson and Ridge Halenar — will play in the annual Arizona Football Coaches Association 1A-3A North vs. South All-Star game.
The PHS foursome will be joined on the North star team by former PHS head coach Josh Anderson. At the conclusion of last season’s run to the crown, Anderson resigned at PHS to become head coach at Dakota State University.
Anderson said he cleared it with DSU to return to Arizona to coach in the all-star game.
On the North team with the Payson contingent are four Blue Ridge High School players that starred on the team the Longhorns defeated in double overtime in the 2008 state championship game.
They are Dustin Simmons, Griffen Strum, Nathan Schimmel and former Payson High student Steel Armstrong.
Also on the North is St. Johns’ Shad Bride, Arizona’s Small School Player of the Year.
Bride is bound for Northern Arizona University where he will join Wilson who has also committed to play for the Lumberjacks.
Halenar advances to the all-star game as the 3A Offensive Player of the Year. That honor could make Anderson’s choice of a starting quarterback a tad easier.
Anderson will have a starting QB choice dilemma because Simmons is also an accomplished quarterback who shined all season long with his running and passing.
Halenar’s credentials include completing 77 of 133 passes for 1,217 yards, 21 touchdowns and just five interceptions.
On the ground, he racked up 743 yards and 10 touchdowns in 94 carries.
Halenar was at his best in the state championship game rallying the Longhorns from a 20-0 halftime deficit to a double-overtime, one-point victory.
But Simmons also racked up some impressive credentials on the Yellow Jackets’ way to the state championship game.
Having the state’s two finest signal callers on the same team is a pleasant luxury, and possibly a dilemma, for Anderson.