There are big changes going on in Payson youth football.
First, local teams will no longer compete in the Central Arizona Youth Football Association as they have for about a decade.
Second, players will not be assigned to leagues based on their ages and weight. Rather, they will participate on school grade-level teams.
The changes were instituted last spring when the local football association opted out of CAYFA in favor of joining the Northeastern Arizona Youth Football League (NAYFL).
Which means, the local gridiron teams will now be playing almost the same opponents the high school football team does — Show Low, Snowflake, Blue Ridge and others.
While in CAYFA, Payson played against most Chino Valley, Prescott and Mingus-based teams.
Payson Football Association board member Pamela Way says the switch from age/weight teams to grade-level squads “will open (the league) up to a lot more players and allow them to play (against) their own peers.”
She also says that response to the changes has been good, “Our teams are filling up rather quickly.”
For the new league, team names will now only be Raiders and Bears.
In CAYFA, Payson used other names such as Wildcats, Cowboys, Broncos and Bucs.
The league this year is open to cheerleaders and players 6 years old as of Aug. 1, to those entering the eighth-grade.
A sign up session will be held from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. tomorrow, June 13, near the equipment room at the North Rumsey Park multi-purpose field.
Another registration is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., June 20 at Chapman Auto Center. There, free hot dogs and drinks will be available and benefit raffles and drawings will be held.
The participation fee is $100, but scholarships are available for children who need financial assistance.
Practices begin Aug. 3 and the first games are scheduled for Sept. 5.
For most of his teenage and adult life, Jack Morris played a huge part in the Payson High School football program.
That’s one of the reasons the Jack Morris Memorial Golf Tournament was founded after his untimely death on Feb. 23, 2004 of complications from a stroke.
He was 34 at the time of his death and an assistant coach for the Longhorn football team.
In 1998, he was the varsity line coach on the undefeated PHS team that won the Class 3A state championship.
He worked his way up the ranks, beginning at Rim Country Middle School and continuing on at PHS, coaching both freshmen and junior varsity teams.
In high school, he played football for the Longhorns for four years and was a member of the 1986 team that advanced to the state championship.
Following his death, his uniform number, 70, was retired at PHS and now hangs in Wilson Dome.
The memorial tournament, which is open to all amateur golfers, tees off at 7:30 a.m., June 20, with a shotgun start at Payson Golf Course.
The entry fee is $85 per player, which includes green fees, cart, and food and prize money.
“We need as many players as possible because the money is for the kids,” tournament director Gary Cordell said. All proceeds benefit the Payson High School football program and to fund a scholarship that goes each year to a deserving PHS graduate.
Prizes will include closest-to-the-pin awards on all par-3 holes, longest drive in the fairways and a hole-in-one prize on a pre-selected hole.
The tournament golf committee is currently accepting other raffle prizes and hole sponsors. All donations are tax-deductible and a tax ID number is available.
For more information about the tournament, call Cordell at (928) 970-1584.