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.
But before coaches, players and parents can begin dreaming of association championships, there’s the matter of registration, practices and regular season games to be taken care of.
NAYFL official Pamela Way announced this week that player registrations will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 23 and June 30 at Chapman Auto Center.
The registration fee is $100 per player and youths must bring to the sign-up session their birth certificate and proof of grade level. Prospective players must also have a physical exam completed before the start of preseason practices on July 28.
The 2012 season kicks off with opening day ceremonies Aug. 18 in Show Low.
League play is open to youths entering grades one through six.
In NAYFL play — unlike the Central Arizona Youth Football Association Payson formerly was a member of — players are assigned to teams according to their school grade level.
In CAYFA, players were aligned on teams based on a weight and age formula.
Way says she favors grade level assignments because, “Keeping the players together as they go through the school system is better.”
Also when Payson Youth Football was aligned in the Verde Valley-based CAYFA, local teams played opponents from Prescott, Mingus, Sedona and Cottonwood.
NAYFL ranks include teams from Show Low, Blue Ridge, Round Valley, Winslow, Holbrook and Snowflake.
This year, St. Johns has joined NAYFL for the first time and will field a full slate of teams.
“There will be more than a 1,000 kids playing (in the league),” Way said.
Payson Youth Football has been a vagabond of sorts in the leagues aligning itself first with CAYFA then in 2009 jumping to the White Mountain area league and a year later returning to CAYFA.
After one season there, Payson has returned to NAYFL play.
Field of five teams
Payson is expected to field five teams — one in the first-second grade league, two in the third-fourth division and another 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.
Importantly for players and their moms and dads is that youths who participate this season will be outfitted with top of the line Riddell helmets specially designed to help prevent the concussions that in recent years have morphed into a major player safety topic.
Manufacturers say the helmets are constructed with energy managing materials and a face mask attachment system that disperses energy from frontal impacts.
“We were able to buy 100 new ones at a cost of more than $7,000,” said Way.
The funds to purchase the new helmets were raised at snack bars during 2011 games, a raffle and donations from the Mogollon Sporting Association and Jerry Chapman.
Former Payson High School head football coach Byron Quinlan was a huge proponent of the new Riddell helmets to the point of using some of his high school club funds to purchase new helmets for middle school players.
Call Way at (928) 978-6560 for more information about Payson Youth Football.