A hard-fought 14-0 victory over Flagstaff Sinagua Thursday evening on Payson High School field improved the jayvee football team's record to 2-0.
The win came just one week after a season opening 39-7 thumping of Phoenix Sandra Day O'Connor's varsity team.
Following the win over the Sinagua Mustangs, coach Mike Loutzenheiser was the first to admit the team wasn't fired up with the same enthusiasm it showed in the triumph over O'Connor.
"From kickoff, we could tell (the enthusiasm) wasn't there," he said. "But I told the kids I was proud of the fact they didn't play their best game, but still played well enough to win. That showed great character."
Sophomore halfback Brandon Echols got the Horns off and running in the second quarter when he took a quick pitch from quarterback Josh Blalock and scooted 86 yards around end to pay dirt.
"When that kid gets in the open field, he can flat out fly," Loutzenheiser said.
On the two-point conversion attempt, Blalock's perfectly executed bootleg keeper play around end lifted Payson to an 8-0 halftime lead.
Although the Horns enjoyed a lead at intermission, Loutzenheiser was not happy with the team's play.
"We were very sloppy," he said. "We put the ball on the ground four times and lost two of them."
The coach said he also was frustrated by the numerous mental mistakes the players made while trying to execute the offensive and defensive game plans.
On the plus side, coach Jimbo Armstrong's defensive unit put on a solid showing keeping Sinagua out of the end zone after the Mustangs had four attempts inside the 8-yard-line
"They did a great job," Loutzenheiser said.
Following a firm locker room lecture from the coaches, the team returned to the field with a renewed commitment.
"They came out and played a very good second half," Loutzenheiser said.
In the third stanza, Blalock scored on an option play that upped the cushion to 14-0. The two-point conversion was not good.
As soon as the final buzzer sounded, Loutzenheiser was ready to address the young team.
"I told them I was very proud of the way they took the (halftime) chewing like young men and then came out and responded to it," Loutzenheiser said.
The Horns are scheduled to return to action at 6 p.m. Sept. 18 on PHS field against Desert Ridge.