Loss Hits Horns In State Polls

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Payson's gut-wrenching 31-24 loss Oct. 4 to Snowflake was soundly reflected in two statewide football polls compiled Tuesday.

In one ranking, the Longhorns (4-1) fell to fifth place from second where the team stood for three weeks.

Another state poll dropped the Horns from second to fourth.

Snowflake, with the win over the Longhorns, remained at the top of the rankings with a 5-0 record.

Wilcox (6-0) and Winslow (4-1) are now ranked second and third.

While pollsters were busy putting together their ratings, the controversy over whether Mike Barr scored a touchdown on the final play of the Snowflake game continued to stir in Payson.

Trailing by seven points and the game clock winding down, Payson took possession of the ball near their own 30-yard line.

On the first play, quarterback Nate Perna hooked up with running back Waylon Pettet, who had been moved to wide receiver, on a 45-yard aerial.

On the next play, which turned out to be the final snap of the game, Perna found Barr, the tight end, near the goal line on a 26-yard pass play. The PHS coaching staff apparently thought Barr had scored because they began signaling for a two-point conversion rather than the one-point that would have tied the game.

"We were going for two because we wanted the win, not the tie," assistant coach Mike Loutzenheiser said.

The official near the catch, however, ruled Barr was not in the end zone and no touchdown had been scored. Although five seconds remained in the game after the catch, the clock expired before the Horns could run another play.

Pettet, who was on a post route near the center of the field on the controversial final play, said Barr had scored.

"The referee put his hands up (to signal touchdown), then brought them down," Pettet said. "I really thought Mike got in (the end zone) and so did he."

After watching game films of the play, Pettet said he was convinced Barr had scored on the pass play.

Loutzenheiser said he had not reviewed the game films, but also thought Barr had scored.

Since the referee's judgment is final, the Horns are stuck with the loss and will rally for tonight's East region clash against the Round Valley Elks. Kick off is 7 p.m. in the Ensphere dome in Eagar.

Locking horns with an old friend

When the Horns take the field in RV, they'll be facing a team coached by a former Payson teacher and coach.

Shaun Hardt, who last year taught at Rim Country Middle School and coached the Lady Longhorn basketball team, resigned last summer to accept the head football position at Round Valley.

At one time, Hardt applied for the head football position at Payson High that was eventually awarded to Steve Saban.

Hardt's inaugural team at RV has struggled to a 1-4 start.

A key to any success the Horns might enjoy in Round Valley could be Pettet's rushing. The senior scatback enters the game as one of the top ball carriers in the state. On 78 attempts he has gained 709 yards and scored six touchdowns. He has a longest run of 59 yards and sports an impressive 9.1 yards per carry average.

Only Snowflake has been able to hold Pettet in check. The Lobo defense held the speedster to his lowest out put of the young season 85 yards on 18 carries.

When Pettet is not toting the pigskin in the Horns' Wing-T offense, it's usually in the hands of Tyler Williams.

The sophomore fullback, whose bull-like rushes into the middle of the line have become his trademark, has picked up 326 yards on 72 carries.

When the Horn offense goes to the airways, the target is usually Barr. With 14 receptions for 331 yards and four TDs, he's rounded into one of the premier receivers in the East region.

Quarterback Nate Perna has completed 25 of 63 passes for 531 yards and seven touchdowns. His longest pass play has gone for 70 yards.

His 40-percent pass completion rate, however, is a mark coaches are hoping will improve in the remainder of the season.

Defensively, linebacker Layton Howell is leading the Longhorn bandits with 24 tackles. Safety Waylon Pettet has 20 and defensive end Jake Swartwood has racked up 20 takedowns.

The trio is good, but the success of coordinator Jimbo Armstrong's defense might rest on the shoulder pads of the defensive linemen Rick Corso, Bryce River, Klayton Haught and J.R. Szabo. George Coleman also has seen action there but also plays linebacker.

Against Snowflake, the down linemen took a beating and coaches are looking for a better showing tonight.

Thursday night in Payson, the Longhorn freshman and jayvee played host to Round Valley. (Results not available at press time.)

The freshman team, coached by Don Engler and Dave Blalock, entered the game sporting a perfect 4-0 record.

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