In a voting of East coaches held at regular season's end, nine standouts on the 1999 Longhorn football team reaped prestigious all-division honors.
First-team honorees included Justin Kaufmann, Dusty Brockett, Jimbo Armstrong and Cade Bradley.
Second-team selections include Joe Skeens, Bryan Zumbro and Kacy Parker. Honorable mention honors were doled out to Levi Armstrong and Caleb Miller.
Kaufman, Brockett, Skeens and Zumbro were chosen to all-division offensive teams. Armstrong, Bradly, and Parker were defensive selections.
As honorable mention award-winners, Miller and Levi Armstrong earned plaudits for their overall contributions.
Following the announcement of the voting early this week, Horn coach Jim Beall said the process had been reasonably good to the Longhorns.
"It is always tough to get all the players you want," the coach said, "but I was very happy with the selections."
The first team
Throughout the 1999 campaign, Kaufmann and Brockett were the one-two punch in the Longhorn offense. As the starting fullback in the Horn power option offense, Kaufmann finished as Payson's leading rusher, with 623 yards on 157 carries. He averaged four yards per carry, had a longest run of 43 yards and scored seven touchdowns.
When coaches weren't calling upon Kaufmann to pound his way into the opposition's defensive line, they were calling for yards and points from Brockett.
An all-around talent who could do it all -- catch, run and kick -- he finished as the team's leading scorer with 75 points.
When aligned as a wide receiver, Brockett paced the Horns with 17 receptions for 358 yards and six touchdowns. His longest catch was for 78 yards.
With his sterling 21.1-yards per catch average, Brockett was one of the most respected deep threats in the East Division. In addition to his receiving duties, Brockett rushed 15 times for 188 yards (12.5 avg.) and two touchdowns.
As the team's designated extra-point kicker, Brockett successfully toed 15 of 22 conversion attempts.
The Horns defensive statistics had not been finalized by press time, but there's little doubt that Armstrong and Bradley -- both seniors -- were at the top of the tackling chart, whether it was assisted or unassisted.
Both won all-division honors as juniors and were even more imposing this year.
Bradley spent much of his high school career as a standup defensive end in the Longhorns' odd-front D but this season drew playing time as an inside linebacker.
"We moved him around," Beall said.
At inside linebacker, Armstrong was a force for opposing offenses to deal with. Like Bradley, coaches used him on occasion as a noseguard in an effort to wreak havoc on foe's game plans.
In preseason, some fans might have been wondering "who's Joe Skeens?"
But by the time the first game rolled around, the teenager had earned himself a starting slot at the tight end position.
His chief duties on the "O" line involved blocking, but when called up as a pass receiver he responded with 10 catches for 208 yards and one touchdown.
Assistant coach Jack Morris labeled Skeen's development a very pleasant surprise that went a long way in fueling the Longhorns' offense.
In Arizona, Zumbro might be better known as a baseball player than a gridiron standout.
Last year, he pitched the Longhorns to the state baseball championship and in late summer was ready to bypass football to concentrate on developing his diamond skills.
But the football bug took a huge bite in mid-August and he was soon on the team picking up where he left off in 1998 when he was an all-division award winner.
This year, Zumbro was also called up to play defense and, coaches say, responded with the same enthusiasm he showed as center.
On defense, Parker was the Longhorns' starting free safety and a big part of coach Mike Wheelis' pass protection schemes.
In addition to aligning in the defensive back field, Parker had the often unenviable and thankless job of long snapping to punters and kickers.
Also, as the backup quarterback to Kyle Conway, he finished with three pass completions in six attempts and had no interception.
Rushing, he lugged the pigskin only three times but racked up 112 yards with a longest jaunt of 70 yards.
Only a sophomore, Levi Armstrong -- Jimbo's younger brother -- has a bright football future at Payson High. Playing both defensive end and tailback, the youngster often drew the praises of the coaches for his do-or-die attitude.
In a disappointing 49-7 loss to Blue Ridge Oct. 22, the effort of Armstrong was one of the few bright spots. His practice habits didn't go unrecognized either as coaches and onlookers witnessed the tenacity he showcased in the sessions.
Miller, a junior, was one of the topnotch cornerbacks in a division filled with talented and speedy defenders.
Several times during the season, Miller was the lone obstacle remaining between an opponent and a touchdown. His response was often a TD-saving tackle.
The senior members of the Longhorn team could be in for even more accolades when members of the Arizona Coaches Association gather in three weeks to select the players for next summer's North vs. South All-Star football game.
Also on the agenda for the seniors could be a berth on an Arizona All-Star team which travels to Australia each summer to play in the Down Under Bowl. The results of those selections will be made public next month.
Up and down campaign
Coming off an undefeated (13-0) state championship of a year ago, this season's 5-4-1 1999 campaign wasn't exactly what Horn faithful were hoping for. But, Payson High head coach Jim Beall says there were plenty of highlights.
"This team accomplished a lot -- beating Snowflake for the first time (26-23 on Oct. 15), playing Globe a great game (30-28 loss on Nov. 5) and overcoming a lot of injuries."