A full contingent of young football players, next season’s coaches and first-year Payson High head coach Jake Swartwood turned out Saturday at Rumsey Park for the Northern Arizona Young Football League Payson program’s annual tryouts and draft.
“We had a great turnout and the kids had a lot of fun,” said Payson NAYFL President Pamela Way. “Parents were pleased to learn that the youth will use new safety helmets to protect their children.”
Earlier this summer, Payson area NAYFL officials pooled their resources to purchase 100 new state-of-the-art Riddell helmets. In all, the tab exceeded $7,000, which Way says was money well spent.
The headgear is top of the line Riddell helmets, specially designed to help prevent the concussions that in recent years have morphed into a major safety topic.
Manufacturers say the helmets are constructed with energy managing materials and a facemask attachment system that disperses energy from frontal impacts.
Also on Saturday at tryouts, Swartwood pitched in to help some of the coaches draft their players.
“He was happy to see all the new youth that are out,” said Way.
This season, Payson is expected to field five NAYFL teams — one in the first-second grade league, one in the third-fourth division and two in the fifth-sixth league.
Payson Youth Football will not host seventh-eighth grade teams because Rim Country Middle School fields both grade level teams in the White Mountain League.
Donovan Waterman, a former PHS standout athlete, will be head coach of the mighty mite team and will be assisted by David Marinelli. John Schreur is head coach of the junior team and will be assisted by David Rolan. Casey Clifton is head coach of minor A team and Jeremy Rickey is head coach of minor B team. Nathan Comeno, Bill Mansoor and Cameron Davis are assistants.
“We are thankful for all our coaches as they give up a lot of time,” Way said. “One of our biggest struggles is coaches. Everyone wants to put in their opinion, but no one wants to take on the duty.”
Way went on to explain that the youth football program is run entirely by volunteers.
“There is no pay, we need every penny we get to cover cost of insurance, uniforms and equipment.
“We do it all for the youth — these kids need to know someone cares and wants to see them succeed.”
Preseason practice kicked off yesterday, July 29, and for the first two weeks will be held 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. weekdays at Rumsey Park.
After 10 days of preseason training, practices will be the same times Monday, Wednesday and Thursday with games on Saturday.
The season begins Aug. 18 in Show Low.
As for game schedules, “they have not been done yet but we hope to have them done this week,” said Way. “We are still waiting on one venue to get done with their plans.”
For the 2012 season, Payson has been tapped the host town for an entire slate of Northern Arizona Youth Football League playoff and championship games to be played in late October.
Which means, Rim Country teams will have the all-important home field advantage in the battle for postseason honors.
Also important to note this year is that, as a member of NAYFL, players will be placed on teams and in leagues based on their school grade level.
Previously, when Payson was a member of the Central Arizona Youth Football Association (CAYFA), placement of players was based on an age and weight formula.
Another difference for Payson is that in NAYFL, the locals will be playing opponents from Show Low, Blue Ridge, Round Valley, Winslow, Holbrook and Snowflake. These teams are very similar to the now defunct 3A East region that the high school was a member of for decades.
While in CAYFA, Payson played foes from Prescott, Mingus, Sedona and Cottonwood.