The name Holbrook Roadrunners doesn't exactly strike fear in the hearts of most opposing football teams.
In years gone by, when legendary coach Thurman Simmons was at the helm of the Runner program, Holbrook's well-oiled wishbone offense ground out win after win and produced enough championships to fill the trophy cabinet.
In the late '80s and early '90s, Payson and Holbrook engaged in several memorable, hard-fought gridiron battles. But the Roadrunners have fallen on hard times, partially because of lack of interest, injuries and discipline problems.
Last year, the team finished with a losing record, and this year the Runners might again struggle to reach the .500 mark.
The Runners do have quality players in running back Matt Castillo, all-division last year, and fullback Mike Sullivan, who played on the offensive line in 1998.
But the Roadrunners could be hard pressed to score against the odd-front defense of defensive coordinator Mike Wheelis that has chalked up two scoreless games this year. Opponents are averaging only three yards per carry and have completed only 25 of 69 pass attempts for 426 yards.
The only team able to run and pass successfully against the Horn D has been St. Johns. In a 40-8 victory Sept. 17, the Redskins were almost unstoppable.
In last week's 21-0 win over Alchesay -- which kept the Horns unbeaten (2-0) in East play --the defense jumped into the scoring act when defensive end Sterling White scooped a tipped pass out of the air and returned it for a touchdown.
The fourth-quarter TD upped the count to 14-0 and allowed Payson a little breathing room.
Offensively, the Horns dominated only one game this season -- a 49-0 spanking of Arizona Boys Ranch.
Fine-tuning the offense
The Holbrook encounter could present a good opportunity for the "O" to fine-tune itself. A big plus in the offense as of last Friday has been the emergence of Joe Skeens as a receiver.
Skeens, who hadn't caught a pass this season before the Alchesay game, led the team with five receptions for 81 yards.
Another positive in the Horn arsenal is the running of junior Dusty Brockett. Against Alchesay, he was the team's leading rusher, picking up 86 yards on seven carries. Brockett was also the game's all-purpose leader with 131 yards -- 86 rushing, 12, receiving and 33 on punt returns.
Game time is 7 p.m. this evening in Longhorn stadium. Following the encounter, about 9:30 p.m., there will be a homecoming dance to honor students and alumni.