Horns prepare for season opener
The Payson Longhorn football team is deep into preseason practices this week. They are making use of Rumsey Park facilities in preparation of the first game of the 2013 season against Wickenburg, which will be played at 7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 30 at Payson High School. Photos by Andy Towle/Roundup
Payson High School football practices kicked off on Aug. 5 and preseason sessions for the other fall sports of volleyball, boys and girls soccer and boys and girls cross country begin after Monday, Aug. 12.
The first two days of football practice were hampered by the monsoon rains that drenched the Rim Country, but on Wednesday skies cleared and coach Jake Swartwood was able to put his players through a full-blown workout on the Kiwanis fields at Rumsey Park.
In volleyball, veteran coach Arnold Stonebrink has scheduled tryouts for Aug. 12 and 13 in Wilson Dome. “On Aug. 12, freshmen try out from 3:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.,” Stonebrink said. “Upperclassmen try out 5 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.
“We will let the freshmen know if they need to return the next day or if tryouts for them will be done (after Aug. 12).”
The upperclassmen, Stonebrink continued, “will definitely tryout through the next day (Aug. 13).”
Following tryouts, practices begin in earnest on Aug. 14.
This year, Stonebrink has assembled an entirely new staff of assistants that includes the head coach’s wife and some of Payson High’s finest former players.
Cydney Figueroa, Hannah Armenta and Tori Wilbanks — who all played under Stonebrink during his nine-year tenure — will join the staff as will Stonebrink’s wife, Penni.
Figueroa will take over as junior varsity coach and Armenta will assume freshman coaching duties.
Penni Stonebrink and Wilbanks will hold down assistant coaching positions.
During summer tournament play, Stonebrink had the chance to evaluate some of his varsity candidates and says he saw “lots of positives” in them.
Among those he lauded were setter McKenzie Creighton and middle hitters Emmee Ashby and Cori Barnett.
Creighton, Stonebrink said, “Runs the offense beautifully.
“She has sweet hands and put the ball in the perfect hitting position every time.”
The coach also praised her at a Blue Ridge-hosted summer tournament for scoring on well-timed and deceptive tips and making several fine saves.
Stonebrink called Ashby — who moved to Queen Creek for her junior year, but has since returned to PHS — “Our best hitter.”
Also, he said, she is “a strong middle hitter and runs all plays and hits to parts of the court with great power.”
At PHS and Queen Creek, Ashby built a reputation as a standout blocker who has a strong jump serve.
Barnett, Stonebrink said, “was our second best middle hitter.”
Although she is new to the position, the coach believes she has “worked hard to become good at it.
“She is a strong hitter who is known to read blocks well in order to avoid them.”
Formal play for the Longhorn football, volleyball and soccer teams doesn’t begin until the end of the month when the varsity squad of the football team hosts Wickenburg at 7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 30. Contests slated on the AIA Web site are as follows (no listings were found for cross country):
At Page, 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 6
At Parker, 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 13
Hosting Glendale, 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 20
Hosting St. Johns, 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 27
At Saguaro, 6 p.m.,Tuesday, Sept. 3
Hosting Coconino, 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 5
At Camp Verde, 6 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 10
Hosting Mingus Union, 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 17
Hosting Fountain Hills, 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 19
Hosting Mogollon, 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 24
At Snowflake, 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 26
At Show Low, 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 28
Home soccer games for the varsity Longhorn boys will be:
1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 7 vs. Grand Canyon
7 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 10 vs. Show Low
7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 26 vs. Snowflake
Home soccer games for the varsity Lady Horns will be:
7 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 3 vs. Show Low
6 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 10 vs. Holbrook
7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 12 vs. Snowflake
7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 23 vs. Camp Verde