More than 350 aspiring high school football players and their coaches descended on Payson July 16 with a goal of improving enough to make a run next season at winning records and state tournament invitations.
In Payson, the players participated for four days in a football training camp held on the Payson High School campus and at Rumsey Park.
Participating were teams from Coolidge, Mesa Red Mountain, Desert Edge, Yuma Kofa and Glendale Independence.
Payson players did not attend the camp. but did compete in evening passing league or 7-on-7 games held under the lights at PHS and Rumsey.
For the camp, players brought sleeping bags, cots, air mattresses, sheets, pillows and other personal items from home.
On opening day, first-year PHS coach Jake Swartwood assigned each team a site on the school campus that the players and coaches could call “home” for the duration of the camp.
Being teenagers, the players brought along boom boxes, video games, personal televisions, MP3 players, PlayStations and iPads to entertain themselves during down time.
Meals were served in the PHS cafeteria and those teams that practiced at Rumsey were chauffeured to and from the park by PUSD buses.
Plans for two-a-day practices were left up to each team’s head coach and his staff.
However, Arizona Interschol-astic Association regulations restrict what could be done during camp week in Payson and around the state.
For example, helmets and pads cannot be worn and contact is disallowed.
A similar camp was held in Show Low under the direction of former Round Valley football coach Tot Workman.
During the camp sessions in Payson, Show Low and at other sites, coaches traditionally stress fundamentals, hoping those will be mastered before preseason practices kick off in earnest during early August.
If the basics are in place, coaches can use preseason to focus on installing offenses, defenses and special teams, which renders camp a wise use of training time.
Preseason training camps have been held in Payson for the past four years.
All the funds earned at the camps benefit the Longhorn football program.