A pair of 2-0 longtime rivals the Payson Longhorns and Holbrook Roadrunners tee up the pigskin at 7 p.m. this evening (Friday) in Holbrook.
A member of the North Region, Holbrook enters the clash having whipped Monument Valley and Ganado. Payson owns impressive victories over St. Johns and Wickenburg.
Although the Horns and Roadrunners have identical win-loss records, Payson is tagged the favorite, mostly because the team defeated a pair of schools that were state ranked at the time. Holbrook's victims, Monument Valley and Ganado, are not considered football powerhouses in 3A gridiron circles.
If Payson has an obstacle to overcome other than the Roadrunners, it is surviving the team's first road test. In Holbrook, the Longhorns could be without some of the vocal support that has shown up the first two contests.
Coach Steve Saban has attributed some of the team's success to the fans.
"Any time we get that kind of boost from our fans, it really does give us a home-field advantage," he said.
The team will need production from the one-two running punch of Waylon Pettet and Tyler Williams.
In 38 carries this season most of which are on Wing-T sweeps Pettet has amassed 316 yards. Williams, a fullback who runs the inside traps, has 190 yards on 37 carries. With 75 carries between them, the two are the workhorses in the Horn offense.
When quarterback Nate Perna goes to the air, tight end Mike Barr has been his favorite target. Barr has three catches for 65 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, the Horns are led by Pettet who last week was switched to safety from corner back.
PHS defensive backs coach Mike Loutzenheiser says he will keep Pettet at safety the remainder of the season.
With a team high 16 tackles and two interceptions, Pettet is far and away the stalwart for defensive coordinator Jimbo Armstrong's bandits. George Coleman has 10 tackles and Jake Swartwood nine.
Last night (Thursday) the Longhorns underclassmen played host to Holbrook on PHS field. A freshman game was played at 4 p.m. and a junior varsity contest at 6:30 p.m. (Results not available at press time.)