By the narrowest of margins, Payson High School senior Waylon Pettet was named the East region’s Offensive Player of the Year.
In a balloting of head football coaches held at the conclusion of the regular season, Pettet was named the East’s best by a single vote over Snowflake quarterback Porter Caldwell.
“It was a political battle,” PHS coach Steve Saben said. “I must have spoken for 15 minutes about Waylon’s value to our team.”
Saben’s announcement of Pettet’s selection nd of the other players who received all-East honors as made Wednesday evening at the team’s annual awards ceremony held at the Mazatzal Casino.
In addition to being named the East’s MVP on offense, Pettet was tapped a first team running back.
Mike Barr and Tyler Williams also were voted to the first team offense; Jake Swartwood and George Coleman were named to the first team defense.
Coaches voted Derek Daniels and Billy Bob Hoyt to the all-East second team.
Nate Perna and Layton Howell received honorable mention laurels.
Other highlights of the annual awards presentation, included the naming of the players selected by PHS coaches as outstanding contributors to the team’s success.
Pettet was named the Longhorns’ most valuable player on offense and Swartwood received the honor on defense.
Hoyt was named the special teams MVP.
The Longhorn award presented annually to the player who displays the most dedication and commitment to the team went to John Cronin.
Academically, all of the team members were honored for maintaining a 3.0 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale).
Throughout the season, Pettet proved he was one of the top running backs in the East. His accomplishments in 10 games included rushing for 1,270 yards on 128 carries. Through the airways he had 22 receptions for 405 yards. With 17 touchdowns, he was one of the leading scorers in the region.
Although his high school career is at an end, Saben is confident Pettet can succeed at the next level.
Barr, a junior tight end, led the Longhorns in receptions with 22 for 405 yards and five TDs. Many of his catches were of the spectacular variety in that he was able to use his 6-foot 6-inch, 220-pound body to wrestle the ball from smaller backs.
Williams’ selection to the first team offense is somewhat of a surprise because coaches often overlook sophomores choosing instead to dole out honors to upperclassmen. But William’s accomplishments were too good to slight.
Running mostly where real estate is tough to come by etween the guards the super sophomore racked up 453 yards on 101 carries and scored 10 touchdowns.
As defensive first teamers, Swartwood and Coleman were two of the best at their positions in the region.
Playing a standup end in the Longhorns 53 defense, Swartwood was third on the team in tackles with 36. His ability to fight off lead blockers and contain sweep plays kept the Longhorns in contention against formidable foes like St. Johns, Wickenburg and Snowflake.
Saben praised Swartwood as a player whose ”leadership, toughness and intensity will be hard to replace.”
Coleman was selected to the defensive team as a linebacker, but also played defensive tackle. His size, (6-foot, 1-inch, 215 pounds) and strength made him a tough opponent to block. Coleman’s 23 tackles were fourth best on the team.
Calling Coleman “a punishing force on defense and offense,” Saben also predicts a bright future for the senior lineman.
“He will be successful in whatever venture he chooses in life,” he said.
The senior members of the team are eligible to participate in the Arizona Coaches Association North vs. South All-Star game next summer in Casa Grande.
ACA members will select the all-stars at the conclusion of the 4A and 5A state championship games in two weeks.