Art Malone, one of small-town Arizona’s greatest-ever football players, died July 27 at 64 years of age.
Malone distinguished himself as a star running back at Arizona State University and later with the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles, but it was his exploits as a prep star at then Class 3A Eloy Santa Cruz High School, at which many continue to marvel.
Malone’s achievement in football and track at Santa Cruz earned him a spot on the Arizona Republic Sports Writers list as one of the 100 greatest Athletes of the Century at No. 77.
In 1964, as a junior at Santa Cruz under coach Lonnie Foster, he was named all-region first team and second team all-state as a halfback and High School All-American honorable mention.
In 1965, Malone became the star back on the Dust Devil’s first state championship football team (12-0), breaking the state scoring record with 37 touchdowns.
At the end of the season, coaches voted Malone first team all-state, first team all-region and he was Athlete of the Month for November.
He was also named that year Arizona Best High School Football Player, Arizona High School Athlete of the Year and first-team High School All-American.
While football was Malone’s sports focus, he also was the state’s best hurdler in track and field.
Running for SC, he was the first Arizona track athlete to run the 180-yard low hurdles around a curve in 18.7 seconds. He was also a state champion in both the low and high hurdles and set state records in both.
In the fall of 1966, he accepted a football scholarship offer from Arizona State University coach Frank Kush and went on to become a starting running back his sophomore season.
Although he went on to twice win first-team All-Western Athletic Conference honors at ASU, he managed to keep up with academics, earning both bachelors and masters degrees from ASU.
Kush has frequently lauded Malone for his dedication to academics, character and leadership.
Shoe exchange program tomorrow
Larry Kennedy and his wife Joyce, along with some Payson United Methodist Church volunteers, will host a third “Shoe Exchange Program” from 9 to 11 a.m. Monday, Aug. 4 at the church, located at 414 N. East St., directly behind Ace Hardware.
This exchange will also include a distribution in which children can pick up sports and athletic shoes they need to participate.
In the newly organized program, young athletes who have outgrown their baseball and soccer shoes can take them to the church to be reconditioned and later passed on to others who they might fit.
Kennedy says it’s a way to provide shoes to young athletes whose parents might not have the financial resources to purchase new shoes each sports season.
The Kennedys and other church volunteers will clean, disinfect and stock the donated shoes and later help distribute them.
Kennedy stresses that families do not have to donate shoes to be eligible to receive shoes.
For more information, call the Kennedys at (928) 468-8887 or (928) 978-1882.