Most high school football coaches point to off-season programs as the key to giving their teams the winning edge once the gridiron campaign begins in earnest.
Payson High School second-year coach Byron Quinlan is obviously among those who believe strongly in the philosophy.
Knowing the importance of summer workouts, which build speed and size in players, as well as develop team camaraderie, Quinlan is now running an ambitious off-season program that includes passing league play and four-times-a-week strength and speed workouts at the school.
All are conducted free of charge.
When Quinlan has a good turnout of players for workouts, as he did last week when almost 40 turned out, he’s as giddy as a schoolboy.
But when players don’t show up as scheduled, he’s as angry as a hornet.
But hey, those mood swings are not unusual — most every high school coach worth his salt experiences them.
Among the competitions Quinlan is encouraging prospective players to attend are passing league games July 12 and July 14 at Fountain Hills High School.
Last week, the team traveled to Mesa Red Mountain High School for passing league play against the host team as well as Apache Junction and Mesa Westwood.
“The team played well, they did a great job,” said Quinlan. “Those are big schools (Class 5A), but we didn’t back away.”
Also on the summer agenda are workouts from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday in the weight room at old Payson High School gymnasium.
July 11 and July 12, from 9 a.m. to noon, PHS coaches will host a youth program for aspiring players entering grades 3 through 8.
Assisting Quinlan will be varsity players and his assistants which include former Purdue quarterback Shawn McCarthy.
“He will be working with our quarterbacks and punters,” said Quinlan.
To register for the camp, which is being sponsored by the Town of Payson Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, go to: http://www.paysonrimcountry.com/Activities/ParksRec/tabid/294/ Default.aspx.
The camp fee is $30.
Last on the Longhorn agenda is a pre-season camp that could turn into the largest ever held at PHS.
Set for July 18 through July 22 on the high school campus and Rumsey Park, the summer camp is expected to draw teams from Red Mountain, Tucson Canyon del Oro, Kingman, Casa Grande and Miami.
Red Mountain could bring to the camp in excess of 200 players.
During the week, the players will live on the campus, eat in the school cafeteria, and practice three times each day.
Each day’s final practice, which will be in the evening, will feature passing league or 7 on 7 play.
In short, the campers eat, sleep, drink, practice and think football 24 hours a day.
The camp is a coach’s dream — no girlfriends, no cars and no part-time jobs to take away practice time. High school students interested in playing football next season should attend the Monday through Thursday evening workout sessions.