That’s the smell of pigskin permeating Rim Country air.
The familiar aroma arrives each fall, signaling the start of Payson High School football practices.
For the 2013 season, pre-season sessions begin Aug. 5 on the PHS football field.
Second-year head coach Jake Swartwood is reminding all prospective players that they must have their physical exams completed and all paperwork filed in athletic director Don Heizer’s office before they will be allowed to practice.
Once the football registration process is complete, players will receive a “Blue Card” to signal to coaches the athlete is eligible to participate.
The requirement is for all fall sports including cross country, girls soccer, boys soccer and volleyball.
Those sports begin pre-season practices on Aug. 12.
The first few days of football practice will be non-contact conditioning drills.
At the conclusion of those mandatory sessions, full-contact practices in pads will begin.
At 6 p.m., Friday, Aug. 23, Payson High will host the annual pre-season scrimmage against Camp Verde and Winslow.
Traditionally the scrimmages have been between two teams, but this year for the first time ever will be a three-way shoot-out.
PHS Athletic Director Don Heizer contends three- and even four-team scrimmages could be the wave of the future in all prep sports.
“I believe Chino Valley is hosting four teams this year,” he said. “They (multiple scrimmages) are good because they give coaches looks at teams of different levels.”
That, he added, helps coaches better prepare their players for the regular season.
The three-way scrimmage at PHS will probably kick off with Camp Verde playing Winslow. Next up, Winslow would play Payson. Since Winslow had played two scrimmages, the Bulldogs — who will have traveled the furthest — could return home.
The last scrimmage would pit Camp Verde against the Longhorns.
While scrimmages are conducted in varying ways, the AIA dictates that no official score be kept and statistics are not entered in the season’s results.
The rules also don’t allow kickoffs or punts in most scrimmages, and coaches are allowed on the field and may stop play to give instruction.