School Officials Not Ready To Pick Replacement Coaches, Ad

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Payson Unified School District Superintendent Casey O’Brien and newly appointed high school principal Kathe Ketchem have not yet decided on a new football coach or a method that will be used to select a replacement for Matt Mayo, who resigned March 26.

“Breaking news on the coaching selection process is still some days away,” said O’Brien.

In response to questions e-mailed last week to Ketchem about how a new coach would be chosen, she said, “We are still in the transition process and I am not ready to discuss the athletic coaching search.

“Please understand I am not avoiding the issue, I will let you know once the process begins formally.”

The administrators also have the task of finding a qualified replacement to take over athletic director responsibilities. Jason Lobik, the former AD, was let go March 29 in a layoff that also included PHS principal Roy Sandoval.

Assistant principal Tim Fruth was a possible AD replacement until last evening when his contract for the next school year was not renewed, for non-disciplinary reasons.

It is believed his position will become an academic dean-type responsibility in 2010-2011, leaving the school without a true athletic director.

Remaining administrators are tight-lipped about who will assume AD duties, but a possibility is to hire a former coach or administrator under a part-time stipend-type contract.

Thankfully, the school does have athletic secretary Stephanie Shields who has shown to be well versed and competent in AD duties, including scheduling and eligibility issues.

Monitoring student eligibility should be a huge priority at PHS in light of what shook the foundation of the school and town in 2007.

Near the end of the girls basketball season, PHS administrators reported basketball star Rhea Cosay was not a legal resident of the Payson School District.

School officials reported the incident because the AIA was then a self-policing organization and the system was built on honor and trust.

Eventually, Cosay was deemed ineligible because PHS administrators had not filed proper hardship guardianship papers for the Alchesay transfer.

With the ruling, the Lady Longhorn basketball team — which had won the East Region tournament championship and was a favorite to win the state title — was booted from the Class 3A state tournament.

Lawyers for the AIA, PUSD and a group of angry parents argued whether the team should have been declared ineligible.

The parents group wanted the team returned to the tournament, but a judge upheld the disqualification.

Some of the hard feelings caused by the incident continue to exist today.

Turkey hunting for the younger set

Payson Roundup outdoor columnist Dennis Pirch wants to remind readers that the National Wild Turkey Federation, Arizona Elk Society and Arizona Game and Fish Department are hosting a juniors’ turkey hunting camp April 15-18. The camp will be located in the Colcord Ridge Campground, which is three miles south of Highway 260 on the Young Road (FR 512).

The hunting camp is being coordinated with the opening weekend of the juniors’ turkey hunting season in units 3C, 4A, 4B and 23 which allows over-the-counter purchase of a spring turkey tag for properly licensed youth between the ages of 10-17 years old.

Which means parents can purchase a spring gobbler tag at a licensed dealer for young hunters and chaperone them turkey hunting.

Pirch says, “experiencing the wonders of the outdoors with a family member, then hearing the call of a tom turkey and trying to call him within shotgun range is a real thrill.”

Those interested should call Rich Williams at (602) 881-6815, or Gene Hays at (520) 579-3777 for more information and to plan for the hunt.

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