Payson High School isn’t wasting any time this year.

The Longhorns open the varsity football season at home against Chino Valley at 7 p.m. on Friday with their annual homecoming game.

It’s much different than a year ago when the homecoming game took place in the final game of the year in November.

Of course, last year was a much different year with COVID-19 concerns delaying the start of the season until October and shortening it from 10 to seven games.

But it’s back to a more normal campaign this fall.

At least, that’s the hope.

However, playing the homecoming game on the first night of the season is highly unusual.

And Payson plays a Chino Valley team that it hasn’t seen since the Longhorns won 52-28 in Payson in 2012. Payson won all six meetings between the teams from 2007-12.

Both teams are coming off 2-5 seasons. Chino Valley finished fourth in the 3A Metro West with a 1-3 record a year ago. The Cougars haven’t posted a winning season in any season over the past 10 years.

Payson went 2-2 in the 3A Metro East a year ago, finishing third behind Arizona College Prep and Valley Christian.

Next week and beyond

The Longhorns play at Mesa Eastmark on Sept. 3, return home against Tuba City on Sept. 10, play at Fountain Hills on Thursday, Sept. 16 and at Chinle on Sept. 24 before opening 3A East region play at home against Round Valley on Oct. 1.

The region schedule continues at home against Snowflake on Oct. 8, at Show Low on Oct. 15, at Winslow on Oct. 22 and back home for the finale against Blue Ridge on Oct. 29.

TicketsYou can still use cash to buy tickets this school year, but Payson High is trying to encourage spectators to purchase digital tickets for sports this season to reduce the transfer of cash and speed up the process of entering games.

Tickets are $7 for adults for football games and $5 for students.

To purchase the digital tickets the district is encouraging, visit and adding the Ticket Spicket app to your smartphone. The tickets will be available on your phone.

You may purchase single-game/event tickets, as well as 2021-22 All-Access Passes ($60 adults, $40 students), 2021-22 All Access Family Passes ($120 for five family members).

For football, Gate A near the concession stand on the east end of the home side of the field is for cash only ticket purchases. Gate B on the west side of the home field side is for digital tickets entry only. All visiting fans and PUSD staff should enter through Gate C on the visitor side of the field. You may use cash to buy tickets there or get in with your Ticket Spicket purchase.

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