A win tomorrow evening over the homestanding Roadrunners will lift the Longhorn wrestling team's region credentials to 5-0 and propel the team one step closer to the East title.
Also, a victory would leave only one obstacle on the Horns' path to the region title --a Jan. 26 clash with the Snowflake Lobos in Wilson dome.
The Horns will enter the final two matches of the regular season as definite favorites based on early season results in which the Horns pummeled East foes Round Valley 50-12, Show Low 56-21 and Blue Ridge 70-9.
In the win over Blue Ridge Jan. 12 in Lakeside, the Horns were without the services of two starters, but nonetheless managed to run rampant over the Yellow Jackets.
One of the missing starters, R.C. LaHaye, might not return to action against Holbrook, but could be ready to compete in the Tim Van Horn Memorial Invitational Jan. 21 and 22.
"That's my goal, to be back for the tournament," LaHaye said.
The young grappler suffered a broken hand about 15 seconds into the 135-pound championship match of the Estancia, California tournament. LaHaye went on to win the match, finish undefeated and claim the "Outstanding Wrestler in the Lightweight Classes" tournament award.
Also currently sidelined is sophomore Levi Armstrong who is recovering from a shoulder bruise.
It is uncertain if the youngster will recover in time for either the Holbrook match or the Van Horn tournament.
"We just have to wait and see," coach Dennis Pirch said.
The return of the two wrestlers to the lineup would buoy Horn hopes to win the prestigious Van Horn Memorial that has drawn several elite Class 5A teams including Gilbert, Gilbert Highland and Mesa Red Mountain.
Against teams of their high caliber, the Horns will have to be at full strength to have any chance of keeping the Van Horn title in the Rim country.
Stinging the Jackets
Lakeside might be the home of a highly successful football program, but when wrestling season rolls around, the Jackets have never been much of a match for the Longhorns.
In the most recent clash between the two rivals, the only matches BR could salvage were victories at 119 and 140 pounds.
Payson's Justin Cline dropped the 119-pound match by a 16-6 decision to BR's Josh Reidhead.
"Reidhead was a very good wrestler," LaHaye said.
Brett Williams, filling in for Levi Armstrong at 140 pounds, lost to his Yellow Jacket foe by a fall.
Among the Longhorns' 12 individual victories of the evening, few were as stirring as freshman Bryce River's triumph in the 215-pound clash.
After falling behind 2-0 in the first period, River scored on a reversal takedown and nearfall in the third period, but still trailed 8-7 as the match wore down.
Finally with 3:36 to go, River pulled off a nifty pin over his surprised Jacket foe.
The come-from-behind win is nothing new for the youngster, coach Dave LaMotte says, "He's developing that style, kind of like a Muhammad Ali 'Rope-a-Dope.' He gets them tired and then comes back to win."
River's win, coupled with a Blue Ridge forfeit to Payson in the heavyweight match, gave Payson its final 61-point victory margin.
Other PHS wrestlers who emerged victorious against BR were Josh Papp (103; fall), Matt McCarty (112; fall), Aaron Bratholt (124; 16-6), Jerry Baker (130; fall), Dominic Palandri (135; fall), Caleb Miller (145; fall), Mike Wright (152; fall), Doyle Van Horn (160; fall), Rocky Beery (171; fall) and Jimbo Armstrong (189; fall).