A pair of Rim Country Middle School Maverick football teams upped their records to 2-0 Thursday afternoon with stirring wins over a long-time Payson nemesis.
In Snowflake, the eighth-grade Mavericks slipped past the homestanding Lobos 20-12, while in Payson the Doug Eckhardt-coached seventh-graders pounded their Lobo counterparts, 28-6.
Both wins came on the heels of season-opening White Mountain League victories for the RCMS teams over Winslow Aug. 26. Against the Bulldogs, the seventh-graders rolled to a 48-12 win. The eighth-graders relied on a last-minute, game-saving tackle by Brandon Kelley to win 20-12.
In Thursday's seventh-grade shootout against Snowflake, the Lobos came to town with a roster that numbered more than 40 players. But in the end, it was the bull-like rushes of RCMS running back Mikey Waterman that proved to be the winning edge. Waterman continually battered the Lobo defense, carrying opposing players for long gains after absorbing initial hits at the line of scrimmage.
The Mavs, who only have about 25 players, gave up only one score, which came on a 50-yard Snowflake TD aerial in the second quarter. On the play, one of RCMS's starting safeties was on the sidelines nursing an injury.
RCMS assistant coach Scott Crabdree cited the defense as one of the reasons for the win. "That was a great defensive effort, especially by Donny Wilbanks, Nathan Lee and Mike Waterman."
Halfback Andy Sergeant also drew plaudits from Crabdree.
The eighth-grade win, coach Bob Hoyt said "was a very physical game against a much larger Snowflake team."
But being smallest in the White Mountain League football is nothing different for this group, who finished last year's campaign 5-1, losing only to Show Low.
Only Mike Barr, who stands over 6 feet tall, and a few other Mavericks have the stature of rough-and-tumble football players. Their teammates are mostly smaller, quicker players who rely on finesse and speed.
Billy-Bob Hoyt, the coach's son, led the rushing attack against Snowflake, pounding out 100 yards. Burr, used much of the time as a blocking back, had 70 yards rushing and Trevor LaHaye picked up 55
Maverick Ryan Theil made a key defensive play, returning a fumble 40 yards for a touchdown. Coach Hoyt cited Larry Wilbanks for his "great defensive game."
The Lobo defensive line couldn't contend with the antics of Barr, who recorded five quarterback sacks and almost as many hurries.
The football squads return to action Thursday against the St. Johns Redskins. The eighth-grade team travels to St. Johns and the seventh-graders host the Skins in Payson at 2:30 p.m.
Zumbro's 4-hitter not good enough to notch a win
The Rim Country Middle School Mavericks' eighth-grade softball squad fell 5-4 to host Snowflake Thursday despite a strong pitching effort from Brenna Zumbro.
In five full innings, Zumbro allowed only four hits and struck out 10. Offensively, Shea Hatch led the Mavs by scoring two runs.
The softball squad returns to WML action Thursday against the St. Johns Redskins. The eighth-grade team travels to St. Johns and the seventh-graders host the Skins at PHS. Game time in Payson is 2:30 p.m.