Learning the basics of tackling and blocking is what football is all about at this early age. In a recent game between the Payson Longhorns and the Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets both teams seemed to have a handle on grabbing the opponent.
Photo by Andy Towle.
The Rim Country boasts 75 players and 25 cheerleaders in its 2011 Northeastern Arizona Youth Football program.
“We’re doing great” said Pam Way, wife of the league president, Daniel Way.
Games were held in Payson with Blue Ridge Sept. 10. The teams have two wins, a tie and a loss from the contests.
The Mitey Mites, which includes players in the first and second grades, had a win, as did the Juniors, which has players from the third and fourth grades.
Payson had so many youngsters come out for the Minors, which is for fifth- and sixth-grade students, it fielded two teams: the Black Longhorns and the Purple Longhorns.
In the games against Blue Ridge, the Black Horns tied and the Purple Longhorns lost.
Way said this year every youth football player is a Longhorn. The decision was made to keep the same name for all the teams for two reasons, she said. One was economics.
“This way the parents can buy one T-shirt and it will see them through,” Way said.
The other reason was to start to create a cohesive, long-term, team-building structure with Payson High School head football coach Byron Quinlan. The goal is to have the youth football program build athletes that will eventually be part of the high school program, Way said.
This Saturday, Sept. 17, the teams travel to Show Low. Payson will then host Winslow for games starting at 9 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 24 at Payson High’s Longhorn Field.
As part of the day’s festivities on Sept. 24, the league will be selling raffle tickets for a number of great prizes, Way said. The cost is $1 each or six for $5.
“We’re trying to raise money to buy 100 new helmets for our kids to protect them against concussions,” Way explained.
Another raffle, for beef, is being planned for later, she said.
Anyone who would like to learn more about the youth football league, volunteer to help or make a donation toward the purchase of the helmets, can call Way at (928) 978-6560.