It wasn't the game-like conditions Longhorn football coaches were hoping for, but the Aug. 20 intrasquad scrimmage at Payson High School gave coaches an opportunity to preview their players.
During the hour-long scrimmage, coaches evaluated senior quarterback Donnie Wilbanks as he pulled the trigger on the Horns new option running attack. In it, Wilbanks had the choice of giving the ball to fullback Tyler Williams on the inside dive play, keeping it himself for an end run or lateraling to running back Luke Apfel.
The new offense also showed a three-receiver, to one side, set the Longhorns did use last season.
Although the offense appeared to click, it was being run against an outmanned team made up of second teamers and junior varsity players.
Defensively, the Horns were a mirror image of last year when they stayed almost exclusively with a 4-3 scheme. Middle linebacker Cash Armstrong is the player who was called upon to shoulder the responsibility of stopping the running game.
The first team defense dominated a mostly junior varsity squad making tackle after tackle for losses.
Assistant coach Mike Loutzenheiser said the staff was able to evaluate the players and will use that information to choose the starting lineup for the season opener Aug. 27 at Glendale Cortez. Kick off is 7 p.m.
Originally Friday's scrimmage was to pit the Horns against the Snowflake Lobos. Snowflake school officials opted out of the scrimmage, saying they wanted to host Chandler Basha in the traditional season preview rather than travel to Payson. It was a disappointing turn of events for the Longhorns.
A solution seemed in the making when Peoria Centennial offered to travel to Payson to replace the Lobos. That didn't work out because the Coyotes couldn't scrimmage Aug. 20 without violating an AIA rule that states teams must be in the second week of preseason practices before holding the scrimmage. Centennial didn't begin practicing until Aug. 16.
Because Payson kicks off the season a week earlier than most teams, it began practicing Aug. 9.
Without a foe, the Horn coaching staff opted for the intrasquad scrimmage.