Rim Sports Feature Devils, Horns


There are a couple of other items on tap this weekend, besides the World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo-n Arizona State University football intrasquad scrimmage and a Payson High School scrimmage.


Quarterback Donnie Wilbanks calls signals as fullback Tyler Williams awaits the snap. Action took place at Monday afternoon's practice session in which the team continued to polish its new option offense. The Longhorns will conduct an intrasquad scrimmage today (Friday) at 3 p.m.

Devils' scrimmage

The ASU scrimmage, which begins at 3 p.m. Friday at Camp Tontozona, will cap the Sun Devils 10-day stay at the scenic mountain retreat located 17 miles northeast of Payson.

Visitors to Tontozona can enjoy the annual scrimmage free of charge in one of the most pristine mountain settings in the state.

Fans are drawn to the camp for the scrimmage but the younger set that accompany their parents usually flock to the clear-running Tonto Creek which is just a few strides from the practice field. The bubbling springs on the camp property and the swimming holes have long been a popular attraction.

On the field, most fans' attention will be focused on senior quarterback Andrew Walter who has been put on the watch list for the prestigious Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award. The award is given each year to the nation's top college quarterback.

If the strong-armed Walter has the year ASU fans are anticipating, some scouts are predicting he could be the top pick in next year's NFL draft.

Those who plan on making the trek to Tontozona should arrive early because parking is very limited at the ASU retreat. Late arrivers are usually forced to park on Highway 260 and walk about one-half mile into the camp.

Longtime visitors will notice the school's retreat has received a $1 million facelift.

The new features include two cabins, one of which will replace the trailer that formerly housed freshmen recruits in Spartan-like conditions.

Meeting rooms and a second playing field also have been added.

Hook 'em Horns

The PHS vs. Peoria Centennial controlled scrimmage that was originally scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday has been canceled.

In its place, the Horns will play an intrasquad scrimmage at 3 p.m. today.

The scrimmage vs. Centennial was canceled because the Peoria team did not meet the AIA practice standard of being in its second week of practice before scrimmaging another team. The Coyotes did not began practicing until Aug. 16.

Payson opens the season Aug. 27, a week earlier than most 4A and 5A teams, so the Horns were allowed to start pre-season training Aug. 9.

The Horns are coming off an 8-2 campaign in which they did not qualify for the state tournament because the team didn't pile up enough points in the 4A conference's power point system. In it, points are awarded for strength of schedule as well as victories.

Although Payson will play almost the same schedule as last season -- except home sites will be switched --oach Jerry Rhoades is confident the team can make the playoffs.

For the Horns to qualify, they must chalk up wins over quality opponents who have winning records.

In the power point system, a 42-0 victory over a winless foe goes for naught.

During the past week, coaches worked on putting in a revamped passing game that include three-receiver or "trips" sets that can prove tough to defend. If senior quarterback Donnie Wilbanks can find the open receiver, the Horns new look could give opponents fits.

Rhoades also has abandoned the Wing-T the team ran last year in favor of an option offense. The key to making it work will be to first establish the inside game in which senior fullback Tyler Williams bulls his way for yardage between the tackles.

Once the defense respects that, the outside option game involving Wilbanks and junior running back Luke Apfel will click.

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