A week filled with traditional homecoming activities wraps up tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 18, with the annual dance to be held from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. in old Payson High School gymnasium.
The dance is much anticipated, but the highlight of the celebration kicks off at 7 p.m. this evening with the Longhorn football team hosting the Round Valley Elks.
For Payson (2-1), the game is more than homecoming — it’s also a chance to get a jump-start in the race for the East region title and a berth into the state playoffs.
The Elks arrive in Payson 3-0, having pulled out an amazing come-from-behind, 36-35 win over Florence Sept. 10.
The Elks are also third-ranked in the state and riding the arm of quarterback Chantz Davis, who has completed 48 of 90 passes for 533 yards and eight TDs.
Last year, Davis lit up the Horns, passing for 252 yards and three touchdowns in the Elks’ 34-6 win.
If Payson is to emerge victorious, the defense must find a way to stall Round Valley’s vaunted aerial game.
If comparative scores mean anything, which they usually don’t, the two teams are almost dead even. Payson beat St. Johns 26-21 in the season opener and a week later Round Valley bested the Redskins 20-14 in one of the fiercest rivalry games in Arizona high school football.
Also on the homecoming agenda today is the annual parade, which begins at 2 p.m. near Julia Randall Elementary School and travels east on Main Street.
On the floats will be the homecoming royalty, which includes the senior court duos of Perla Guereque and Caleb Harrison, Carisa Haas and J.B. Thornhill, Rylee Halenar and Jake Gonzalez, Kelsey Waugh and Keaton Duran.
The king and queen will be selected from that group of seniors and crowned at halftime this evening.
Representing the junior class are prince Austin Shannon and princess Natalie Black.
Prince John Buskirk and princess Corey LeVac are from the sophomore class. For the freshmen, Brett Royer is prince and Sage Pearce is princess.
Yesterday, Thursday, was also a big day for homecoming festivities. At an afternoon pep assembly, the fall sports teams and royalty were presented to the student body. At 6 p.m. Thursday, the traditional bonfire was held, during which football coach Byron Quinlan addressed students, and free food was available.
PHS teacher Shelly Camp, the student government sponsor, helped plan and oversee most of the homecoming events.