After routing Whiteriver 50-6 last Thursday advancing the seventh grade Maverick football team to an undefeated 4-0 record the question on the minds of coach Ned Schall and assistant coach Dave Blalock is: "Is there anyone out there who can really compete with us?"
The match against Whiteriver proved to be yet another instance in which Payson players were handing out a lesson in humility.
The first quarter saw quarterback Josh Blalock running into the end-zone for a touchdown as did fullback Cash Armstrong. Defensively the Mavs not only didn't allow Whiteriver to score, they barely allowed any offensive yards at all.
The second quarter was not the same walk in the park. The Mavericks were plagued by turnovers and penalties.
"We just mentally fell apart," Schall said.
Regardless, the defense stayed tough and allowed no scoring.
After a halftime discussion, the Mavs took control of the gridiron in the third and never looked back the rest of the game.
Josh Blalock carried the ball over the goal line three more times for a total of eight carries and four TDs. The Payson defense also scored twice with nose guard Donald Engler and defensive linebacker Bryan Darnell each making fumble recoveries which they carried for TDs.
The Mavs allowed Whiteriver to score only once with a 40-yard running play in the fourth quarter. Payson once again showed almost complete domination both offensively and defensively with nearly every player putting in significant time on the field.
"I was able to play a lot more kids a lot longer, especially on defense," Schall said.
Coach Blalock said youth football was the reason Payson's middle schoolers were already such a driving force on the field.
"Donald Engler, Josh Blalock, Cash Armstrong, Shelton Keith and Derrick Hoosava are the five guys we've really built the team around because they're playing in their sixth and seventh year of organized football," Blalock said. "They really are the example for the rest of the team."
Standouts in the Whiteriver game include those same names, especially the four TDs by Josh Blalock.
"He plays nose guard and center and just about anything else you want," he said of Engler. "He never lets up, is always in the game mentally, is always focused and he's just an animal."
So will Payson finally find a team that truly challenges them for 3A East gridiron supremacy? Show Low and Round Valley may be the Mavs' best tests. Those schools also have youth football leagues and a history of turning out teams which have presented significant challenges for Payson in the past.