If Arizona Boys Ranch officials were hoping to erase all reminders of the beleaguered reform school by changing its name to Canyon State Academy last summer, they certainly accomplished their goals on the football field.
About the only vestiges of the once-proud ABR gridiron program that remained Friday evening in Payson's 53-0 manhandling of Canyon State was the use of the Spartan mascot and the Michigan State look-alike uniforms.
The school's well-publicized legal woes caused by the death of a student inmate three years ago has reduced the football program to only a skeleton of what it was in the mid '90s when the Spartans reached the state championship game three consecutive years.
Had it not been for a compassionate Longhorn coaching staff Friday, the PHS victory margin could have reached 100-plus points.
Late in the first half, after the Horn lead reached 31-0, PHS coaches began substituting freely allowing many of the jayvee players to see ample playing time.
Junior varsity running back Logan Milam shouldered the majority of the ball-carrying chores with 11 carries for 33 yards.
Also earning extensive duty on the varsity level were Josh Heglie, Nate Perna and Jake Swartwood. All three are sophomores who started on the jayvee team in a season-opening win over Safford two weeks ago.
Heglie, a running back, had five carries for 17 yards and Perna playing quarterback three for 12 yards. Perna also had one pass completion, in one attempt, for 10 yards to Swartwood.
With most of the varsity starters relegated to the bench and sophomores manning the trenches, Payson continued to roll outscoring Canyon State 22-0 in the second half.
"Our jayvees played well," dead-panned junior varsity coach and varsity assistant Jack Morris.
Sophomore Waylon Pettet's 39-yard TD scamper with 10:17 remaining in the first quarter left little doubt which team would prevail in Queen Creek.
On a "zoom" play or counter to the wingback Pettet, running right to left, followed the block of pulling guard Cory McRae to paydirt.
A 25-yard touchdown run by Dusty Brockett and an 11-yard pass from quarterback Ky Bradley to Brockett upped the count to 21-0 early in the second quarter.
Reed Hatch's 20-yard pass interception return and a 22-yard field goal by former Punt, Pass and Kick champion Cody Baldwin increased the Horn cushion to 31 points at halftime.
If there was a breath of life left in Canyon State, it was quickly extinguished on the first play of the second half when Cory McRae alertly pilfered an errant enemy aerial.
Following the interception launched by CSA quarterback Wallace Bowlen McRae weaved his way to the end zone to up the Horn lead to 37 points.
A third quarter 49-yard scoring romp by Levi Armstrong and Caleb Miller's safety on an attempted punt layered icing on the Longhorn victory cake.
In a high school football rarity, the Longhorn "O" was never forced to punt.
In racking up 330 yards of total offense, the Horn's power option ground game engineered by Bradley in the early going racked up 289 of those yards. Through the airways, Bradley and Perna completed four of five passes for 41 yards.
If there was a concern to be expressed in the win, it might be the team's ability to hold onto the pigskin. Fumbling four times, the Horns lost possession on three of the miscues.
You can bet your lettermen's jacket, the staff will be working to correct those woes before the East region campaign rolls around Sept. 22 in Round Valley.
The Horns return to non-region play Sept. 17 against St. Johns. Kick off is 7 p.m. in Longhorn stadium.