A fire engine escort from town limits to Green Valley Park was among the rewards that awaited the Longhorn golf team after it won the school's first-ever state golf championship.
At the park Tuesday afternoon, jubilant team members celebrated the victory by drenching first-year coach Bret Morse with fire engine spray.
The team captured the links crown Monday and Tuesday near Show Low by carding a 625 eight strokes ahead of runner-up and defending state champion Safford.
But as the state showdown unfolded, the Longhorns quickly found themselves playing the role of the pursuer.
After the first day, 18-hole round played on Torreon golf course the Horns trailed Safford 315-323.
A gutsy come-from-behind surge on the second day in which the Horns outscored Safford 302-318 propelled the Horns to the win. Action in the second round moved from Torreon to Silver Creek.
"The first day we didn't play poorly but we didn't play as well as we were capable," Morse said.
Even though the team trailed early, it never lost confidence it could rebound in the second round and win the 3A crown.
"We talked (at the end of the first day) and agreed golf is an up-and-down game," Morse said. "We had our down game and we really believed we'd come back and play well. But, we knew eight strokes was a lot to make up."
Payson's second day surge was led by senior Tyson McKee who finished with a one-over-par 73. McKee eventually finished as the state runner-up at 149. Safford's Brandon Martin (148) swung his way to low-medalist honors one stroke ahead of McKee.
Longhorn freshman Billy Bob Hoyt finished as the bronze medalist with a 151.
Although Brandan Kelley and Tyler Shrum didn't medal by finishing in the top 10, their two-day scores of 160 and 165 were more than enough to push the Horns over the top.
The secret to the team's championship success, Morse said, was because "the players were not only talented, but also had good chemistry in how they got along. There was no jealousy. They rooted for each other."
All season, he said, "the team was a fun one to coach."
With the victory, the team members will soon hang Payson High's first golf championship banner in Wilson Dome.
Two years ago under coach Dave Bradley, the Horns finished as runner-up behind Fountain Hills.