The preseason doldrums and drudgery of scrimmaging only against the familiar faces of teammates have ended and Payson High student-athletes are welcoming the opportunity to finally begin showcasing their talents against rivals from other schools.
Football was the first team to delve into the new season traveling Aug. 26 to Chino Valley where the Horns took a pulsating 19-12 win over the Cougars.
Volleyball tips off in earnest today, Aug. 30 in Snowflake and continues tomorrow, Wednesday, in Wilson Dome against Notre Dame Prep.
Girls soccer also begins today at Desert Christian High School. The Lady Horns debut at home on Sept. 1 against St. Augustine Catholic High — a school with only 136 students and aligned in Division IV, Section III with Payson.
The cross country team travels Sept. 3 to Tempe Kiwanis Park for a season-opening meet hosted by Marcos de Niza High School.
Coach Jonathan Ball is calling the Lady Horns “pretty solid once again this year” and the boys “a work in progress.”
Boys soccer action begins Sept. 6 at Verde Valley. The school, which has an enrollment of 110 pupils, is aligned in Division IV, Section II along with Payson and seven other schools.
Because the region-conference has been done away with and replaced with divisions and sectionals, postseason play this year will consist of sectional tournaments in which the top one-half of the finishers qualify for the division or “state” tournament.
Because a great deal of school size disparity exists in the division-section configuration, many pundits are expecting the schools with larger student bodies to dominate both the regular and postseasons.