A single year playing in a White Mountain-based Northeastern Arizona Youth Football League (NAYFL) was apparently enough for Payson Youth Football officials.
The Payson teams will return next fall to the Northern Arizona Youth Football Association — formerly the Central Arizona Youth Football Association — that they competed in for a decade before deciding last summer to depart CAYFA in favor of NAYFL.
Local football association officer Daniel Way said among the reasons the league returned to its old stomping grounds was because NAYFL had no playoff games and “some didn’t think it was competitive enough.
“(The league) was fine with me, but others didn’t think so.”
With the move, the Payson teams will now be playing squads representing Cottonwood, Prescott, Flagstaff and other northwestern Arizona towns.
Last year, Payson played against teams from Show Low, Snowflake and Pinetop-Lakeside.
While in CAYFA, Payson fielded teams known as Wildcats, Cowboys, Broncos, Bucs and Raiders.
In NAYFL, the only names used were Raiders and Bears.
Way says Payson will field five teams (or six) if enough players enroll this fall.
The biggest difference in the two leagues is that in the White Mountains, players were placed on teams according their grade level in school.
In the NAYFA, players will be slotted on teams according to their size and age.
Which means there won’t be any huge height and weight differences in players as there was last season.
In 2009, when Payson shifted to the east, association officials touted the move as one that would open up the league to more players and allow athletes to compete against their peers.
That thinking has apparently changed.
Another difference is that high school freshmen will be eligible to play if they do not turn 15 years of age before Aug. 1.
That rule was instituted partly because Flagstaff schools have eliminated freshmen programs due to budget cuts.
Parents interested in registering their children for play may do so from 9 a.m. to noon tomorrow, June 12, at Chapman Auto Center in Payson.
The registration fee is $75 and players must have a copy of their birth certificate when signing up.
The early sign-up period ends June 14, after which the fee increases to $100. Another sign up will be held from 9 a.m. to noon, June 26 at Chapman.
Practices will begin Aug. 2 and the first games will be played on Labor Day.
Also, the association is in need of volunteers and coaches. Anyone interested should call Daniel Way at (928) 978-6723 or Pamela Way at (928) 978-6560.