Longhorn Stars Line Up For All-Region Honors


Several Payson High School football players are expected to soon become members of the 4A Conference Grand Canyon all-region teams.

The all-region players -- which include offensive and defensive first team, second team and honorable mention-ere selected in a voting of coaches held at season's end.

The candidates from Payson include Mike Barr, Donnie Wilbanks, Chris Skinner, Ryan Thiel, Tyler Williams, Cash Armstrong, Adam Munson, Larry Wilbanks and possibly others.

The official results of all-region voting will be announced at the team's season-ending award ceremony at 6 p.m. Nov. 26, in the bingo hall at Mazatzal Casino.

The stats

According to Longhorn defensive statistics compiled during the course of the campaign, Armstrong led the team with 109 assisted tackles and six solos. The sophomore held down the middle linebacker position in Payson's 43 defensive schemes.

Other top defenders, according to the statistics, were Nathan Lee (77 assists, 7 solos), James Gibson (70 assists, 11 solos), Skinner (41 assists, six solos), Larry Wilbanks (39 assists, 18 solos), Munson (33 assists, two solos) and Barr (31 assists and three solos).

According to offensive statistics, Williams finished as the Longhorns leading rusher with 594 yards on 146 carries. Playing fullback in the Horns Wing-T offense, most of Williams' yardage was piled up between the tackles where real estate is tough to come by. His 3.9-yards-per-carry average, team-high eight TDs and 23 pass receptions for 394 yards might be the proof coaches need to pick him.

Although Thiel played sparingly at running back, he led the team in yards-per-carry with an 8.8 average.

When the Longhorns opted for the airways, senior tight end Mike Barr led the receiving crew, corralling 23 passes for 384 yards and one TD. His 6-foot, 7-inches and 230 pounds made him an imposing target for quarterback Donnie Wilbanks and a tough receiver for Grand Canyon defensive backs to cover.

When Barr graduates in the spring, he anticipates continuing his football career on the college level.

Other Horn receiving threats this season were Mark McRae (12 receptions for 208 yards) and Larry Wilbanks (10 for 159).

Donnie Wilbanks, a junior, completed 74 of 157 passes (47 percent) for 1,192 yards and nine TDs. He also threw 11 interceptions.

If voting coaches throw accolades Munson's way, it could be for his contributions on the offensive line. A senior, Munson anchored a line that featured several first-year varsity starters.

In special teams play, Barr turned in a commendable season as a punter posting a 35.9 yards average.

Gibson led the team in both punt (12 for 91 yards) and kick returns (eight for 177 yards).

Guard Nick DeGroot toed 20 of 24 extra-point kicks. As a team, the 8-2 Longhorns outscored their opponents 226 to 131.

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