Jake Swartwood is hoping for a much smoother trip this time around.
The Payson High varsity football head coach and his team are scheduled to make the 278-mile trip to Page near the Utah state line today for tonight’s game against the Sand Devils.
It is expected to be about a six-and-a-half-hour drive, not counting a stop for lunch in Flagstaff. The team is expected to arrive back at PHS at approximately 4:30 a.m. Saturday.
They’ve chartered a bus for this trip, as well as next week’s journey to Parker. The football team used fund-raisers to pay for the difference in cost for the charters.
They’re using the same company that drove them to Mohave Valley River Valley last Oct. 12.
That was a trip everyone involved in won’t soon forget.
“We had a bad experience last year,” Swartwood said. “The heater on the bus broke, the TV didn’t work. And I was like, ‘Man, we just paid $2,500 for a busted bus.’ So they know this year that if I have that I’m going to tell them to turn around and get us a new bus. Hopefully it doesn’t happen.
“We had a freak snow storm outside Williams and we had to stop at a truck stop and buy ponchos and anything that they had because it was probably 20 degrees inside the bus. And we still had about four hours left. It was miserable. We had to scrape the window inside the bus for the driver because she was not able to see. And she was freezing. We actually had to put jackets and stuff on her, also.
“I called the guy (Tuesday) and I’m going to call him again (Wednesday) just to refresh his memory about what we had happen last year. I don’t want that this year.”
To make the trip even worse, River Valley beat the Longhorns 44-14.
Swartwood said the Longhorns believe covering the approximately $1,400 extra for the Page trip, as well as the extra money it’ll cost for next week’s trip to Parker, is a good idea.
“The school will pay for the yellow bus,” he said. “So what we have to do is pay the difference. But it’s well worth it. It’s much nicer. I can’t sit in one of those buses. It’s anywhere from 12 to 14 hours you’re on that bus. So you might as well be comfortable. There are 26 kids we’re bringing and, per kid, it doesn’t turn into that much money really for us to do that. But you’ve got to fund raise and you’ve got to get the money.
“We do that on our long, away games. We’ll take another charter to Parker. But after that, we’ll take yellow school buses like everybody else. We’ve got a DVD player and we’ve got probably eight or nine television sets. It’s exactly like it would be if you were on a college team,” Swartwood said.