Unknowing passers-by who stumbled onto Payson Golf Course on June 8 might have mistakenly believed they had crashed a Longhorn alumni reunion.
The mistake would be understandable because most of those who were there to play in the Jack Morris Memorial Tournament were Payson High School alumni and coaches.
Most all were drawn to the annual tournament for two reasons — to pay their respects to former Payson High football player and coach Jack Morris who died Feb. 23, 2004 in a Phoenix hospital of complications from a stroke, and to raise money for the PHS football program and two college scholarships.
Among those participating was Ted Pettet, the dean of all PHS coaches and first mayor of Payson.
Pettet’s team, which was comprised of himself, his grandson Waylon, former PHS and college golfing star Billy Hoyt and local bank manager John Raven, won the tournament, carding an impressive 54.
Most would think it would have been Hoyt, who once played collegiately at Hawaii and Grand Canyon University, who carried the team to the win.
But Hoyt, also a golf pro, denied that, deadpanning, “Ted carried us; all we had to do was hit it on the fairway and he took it from there.”
Sure, Billy, got a bridge you want to sell us?
The responsibility of hosting the tournament this year fell on the shoulders of Payson High School football coach Jake Swartwood, who called the fray a complete success.
“The neat thing about this is that people just drop by to say ‘hi’ and visit with their friends from high school,” said Swartwood. “We also had about 20 student-athlete volunteers here to help out.”
Payson High School Athletic Director Don Heizer also attended to lend his expertise where needed.
Funds help students
The money earned is used to fund two Jack Morris scholarships that are given at the end of each school year to deserving seniors who have fared well academically and contributed to the school through extra-curricular activities.
Some of the money also is used to fund PHS weight room activities and to pay high school sports fees for student-athletes who cannot afford the charges.
Total proceeds from the tournament will be announced later this week.
At the time of Morris’ death, he was 34 and the married father of two daughters.
His coaching career began in 1995 as an assistant at Rim Country Middle School and peaked in 1998 as the line coach on the undefeated state championship PHS team.
Morris’ two brothers, Cable Morris and Josh Barnhardt, were starters on the championship team.
Both have been at every memorial tournament since their brother’s death, as has Morris’ mother Terry.
After Jack’s one year at RCMS, he was obviously hooked on coaching and moved to the high school where he coached undefeated freshman and junior varsity squads.
At the time of his death, Jack was serving as an assistant to then-PHS head coach Jerry Rhoades.
In 1986, he was a senior member of the Longhorn team that advanced to the state championship where it lost a 7-0 heartbreaker to Snowflake.
His jersey number 70 was retired in 2004 during homecoming and now hangs in Wilson Dome.