Horns Face Much-Improved Colts

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Tonight in Longhorn stadium, the Payson Longhorns kick off their football season in 4A against Glendale Cortez.

Although Cortez is unknown in the Rim country, first-year head coach Jerry Rhoades has good knowledge of them.

As Mingus' defensive coordinator last season, his Marauders played the Cortez Colts.

This year's Colts team, Rhoades said, is much improved over the one he helped Mingus maul last season.

One of the biggest differences is in a huge front line that Cortez will bring to Payson.

"Their front four average 260 to 270 pounds," Rhoades said.

Scouting reports also indicate that the Colts lineup features a stellar player (No. 84) who holds down both the tight end and middle linebacker position in the team's base 43 defense.

"They have a very good defense," Rhoades said.

Offensively, Cortez will line up in an offset I formation that is designed to take full advantage of both a running and passing attack.

For Payson, the team will be without the services of junior fullback Tyler Williams. In last week's scrimmage in Snowflake, Williams injured an ankle and could be sidelined another two weeks.

Junior James Gibson will replace Williams at the fullback slot.

Another change from last week's starting lineup will be at the quarterback position where J.R. Szabo replaces Donnie Wilbanks.

Wilbanks missed a practice this week and according to team rules is not eligible to start.

Szabo engineered the team most of the spring, summer and preseason but moved to tight end when Mike Barr was injured in a watercraft accident.

A huge key to a Payson win tonight will hinge on the performance of line coach Jack Morris' Bruise Brothers.

If Kevin Allen (quick tackle), Greg Barnes (quick guard), Kyle Sachak (center), Nick Degroot (strong guard) and Adam Munson (strong tackle) control the line of scrimmage, the Colts can be rounded up and corralled.

Defensively, Rhoades will be trying to shore up a "D" that was caught out of position on several plays in the Snowflake scrimmage.

The past week, the rain that sent players scurrying off the field and into the classroom, wreaked havoc with the staff's plans to correct those gridiron shortcomings.

Kickoff is 7 p.m. this evening.

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