Payson High School football and volleyball practices begin Monday, Aug. 2, but the sports of soccer and cross country must wait a full week to officially start training.
The time differences are because football and volleyball begin regular season games a week earlier than the other sports. Arizona Interscholastic Association rules dictate the time between the first day of practice and the opening game.
Football season kicks off Aug. 27 vs. St. Johns in Longhorn stadium and volleyball begins Aug. 24 in Wilson Dome vs. Holbrook.
The girls soccer season begins Aug. 31 in Lakeside against Blue Ridge.
The boys play Sept. 1 at Rumsey Park against the Show Low Cougars.
The boys and girls cross country teams open Sept. 8 in a multimeet in Flagstaff.
Although Longhorn football practice doesn’t officially begin until Monday, players and coaches got a jump start on conditioning and learning the nuances of the sport during a training camp held July 19 to July 23 on the school’s campus.
The volleyball team trained in a summer camp that began Wednesday, July 28 and will wrap up today.
Before the regular season actually kicks off, all the fall sports teams, except cross country, will be in action in controlled scrimmages.
Coach Byron Quinlan’s gridiron crew scrimmages at 5:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 20 in Longhorn Stadium against Camp Verde.
The pre-season scrimmages allow coaches on the field and they may stop play at any time to give instruction. There are no kickoffs or special teams play. The AIA mandates no score is to be kept, but almost every player, coach and fan keeps a mental tally of touchdowns, extra points, safeties and field goals.
The scrimmages allow coaches the opportunity to evaluate their players in game-like conditions without concerns for wins or losses.
They also give players the opportunity to impress their coaches before the regular season kicks off.
Many a young athlete has earned a varsity roster slot with a good showing in a pre-season scrimmage.
The skirmishes can also yield the opposite results. Sometimes, players teetering on being assigned to either varsity or junior varsity are relegated to the jayvee ranks after a lackluster performance in a scrimmage.
Coach Arnold Stonebrink’s Lady Longhorn volleyball team scrimmages Thursday, Aug. 19 in Wilson Dome vs. Florence.
The team has had a full slate of off-season scrimmages, so Stonebrink has had plenty of opportunities to access his players. He’ll probably use the scrimmage to plug his athletes into positions where they can best help the team.
Both the boys and girls soccer teams scrimmage Saturday, Aug. 28 in Eagar-Springerville against the Round Valley Elks.