Horn Threesome Chosen First Team All-Region

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A trio of Payson Longhorn football players learned Wednesday evening at the team's season-ending awards ceremony that they had been named to the Class 4A conference Grand Canyon All-region team.

The first teamers were tight end Mike Barr, defensive lineman Chris Skinner and defensive back Larry Wilbanks.

At the ceremony, head coach Jerry Rhoades also acknowledged three players selected to the all-region second team. They included offensive lineman Adam Munson, fullback Tyler Williams and defensive back Ryan Theil. Quarterback Donnie Wilbanks and linebacker Cash Armstrong were recipients of honorable mention awards.

The all-region team was selected in a voting of head coaches at the conclusion of the regular season.

In recognizing the all-region team and other players, Rhoades said, "I am proud of several guys -- Tyler (Williams), Nate (Lee), Gibby (James Gibson), J.R. (Szabo) and Mark McRae."

He also praised Larry Wilbanks, who took an off-season break from his promising wrestling career to turn out for football.

"I am so glad he decided to come out. He had a great year," Rhoades said.

Sophomores Donald Engler, Kevin Allen, Cash Armstrong, Luke Apfel and Josh Blalock were honored for contributing to the varsity cause.

As a class, however, the sophomores drew barbs from Rhoades.

"I was disappointed in the commitment especially towards the end when some guys became ineligible and quit showing up," he said. "Some had better things to do, winter baseball, and quit at the end."

The jayvee team got off to a 5-0 start, but had to cancel the final few games due to lack of players.

The coach said the varsity's 8-2 season was a great year and said he was proud of all the players who finished.

His goals for next year center around placing a huge emphasis on off-season weight training.

"We need more weight room commitment," he said, "we need to be there to get faster and quicker."

Although the season ended only a few weeks ago, Rhoades said he is already looking forward to the challenge of leading the Longhorns into their second season in the 4A conference.

"Next year should be even better," he predicted.

First- and second-teamers

Mike Barr: The 6-foot, 7-inch tight end led the Longhorns in receiving, corralling 23 passes for 384 yards and one TD. Barr also turned in a commendable season as a punter, posting a 35.9 yards average. Defensively, he chalked up 31 assisted tackles and three solos.

Chris Skinner: Playing defensive end in Rhoades' 4-3 scheme, Skinner finished fourth on the team in tackles with 41 assists and six solos. Throughout the season, he built a reputation as a difficult defender for one lineman to block. Skinner had the skills to defend the run and rush the passer equally well.

Larry Wilbanks: Probably the most solid and steady defensive back on the team, Wilbanks finished with 39 assisted tackles and 18 solos. He was particularly strong defending the pass in the Horns' cover-two and cover-three schemes.

Adam Munson: As a senior, Munson was the anchor of the offensive line. Throughout the campaign, Munson was praised by line coach Jack Morris for his ability to correctly make blocking calls in the heat of the game. Morris said Munson was the team's most consistent lineman. After graduation, Munson would like to continue his career possibly at Mesa College where he would be coached by former Longhorn coach Dan Dunn.

Tyler Williams: In the entire 4A conference, there are few fullbacks who run as hard as Williams does between the tackles. The hard-nosed junior, finished as the Longhorns' leading rusher with 594 yards on 146 carries. His 3.9 yards-per-carry average, team-high eight TDs and 23 pass receptions for 394 yards was solid proof he was one of the most versatile backs in the region.

Ryan Theil: At the conclusion of last spring's baseball season, Longhorn coach Teddy Pettet tagged Theil as one of the top two pure athletes on the team. During football, Theil lived up to the praise putting his abilities to use as a defensive back. His outstanding speed and quickness made him a threat to intercept or knock down any pass thrown his way. Although he played sparingly at running back, he led the team in yards-per-carry with an 8.8 average.

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