Football fans traveling to Springerville-Eagar this evening to take in the Payson vs. Round Valley game will notice Elk players will not wear award stickers on their helmets as they have in past seasons.
The helmets will, however, have a “DS” sticker affixed to them.
The stickers are there to honor former Round Valley coach Darwin Slade who died July 8 at 84 years of age.
Slade coached for 50 years at RVHS and is a member of the Arizona Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
He also was the patriarch of a huge family that has produced many of Round Valley’s finest student athletes, some of whom later became coaches including Everett Slade, an assistant this year to Russ Seymour.
During his heyday, Darwin led the Elks to several state football championships and helped build a great football tradition at RVHS.
During my coaching stint at Show Low High School in the 1980s, I got to know Darwin fairly well and developed a huge respect for him as a family man and a coach.
He contributed a great deal to Arizona high school football, his community and RVHS.
Trojans nipped in opener
Josh Anderson’s debut as head coach of the Dakota State University football team turned a bit sour with a heartbreaking 21-20 loss on Sept. 12 to the Minnesota-Morris Cougars.
Anderson took over at DSU last summer after leading the Longhorns to an undefeated season and the 3A state championship.
He was at Payson High for three seasons, moving here from Chino Valley.
Coaching with Anderson at DSU are former PHS coaches Kenny Hayes and Jake Swartwood. Hayes is the Trojans’ defensive coordinator.
Among Anderson’s freshman recruits is linebacker Steel Armstrong, who began his football career at Payson High School before transferring to Blue Ridge.
Armstrong has been impressive in early season, earning a starting spot at linebacker. In the loss to the Cougars, Armstrong finished fourth on the team in tackles with 12 and had a quarterback sack on a fourth down that forced the Cougars to give up the ball on the Trojans’ 11-yard line.
Former Longhorn player Shane Keith, a member of the 2008 state championship team, originally signed to play at DSU, but after a few days at the school, returned home to Payson.
Anderson said he was extremely disappointed to lose Keith partly because he expected the ex-Horn to contend for starting honors at safety.
Anderson does have one other 3A East player on his squad, defensive back Griffin Strum of Blue Ridge High School.
The Trojans will open their Dakota Athletic Conference season on the road Saturday, Sept. 19. Dakota State will face South Dakota School of Mines in Rapid City, S.D.
Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m. Central time, 1 p.m. Mountain time.