A homecoming victory Friday night over the Prescott Badgers could pay huge dividends when the state playoff pairings are announced Nov. 6.
The Longhorns are 4-0 and ranked 11th in state polls, but their wins have been chalked up over mostly hapless
teams that probably won't wrap up the season with winning records. That means, those season-opening wins probably won't produce the power points the Horns need to earn the state berth that was denied the 8-2 team of last season.
In the Class 4A conference playoff system, power points are awarded on strength of schedule as well as victories.
Whipping a 2-1 Prescott team tonight would be a power points feather in the Longhorns' hat.
The Badgers opened the season with a 35-29 loss to Coconino but then rebounded in a 42-0 triumph over the Arcadia Titans. Last week, Prescott upset then fifth-ranked Sunnyslope 56-35.
The team's back-victories have fans in the Mile High City wondering why the Badgers weren't ranked when polls were compiled after the victory over Sunnyslope.
Prescott arrives for the homecoming clash with a good-sized line to block for three backs who rushed for more than 100 yards in the win over Sunnyslope. Their ace back, junior Chris Reed, has good speed and is a threat to score anytime he touches the ball.
The Horns will try to contain Reed and his running mates with a 4-3 defense that has not been tested this season. In the Horns' 47-0 win over Apache Junction, the Prospectors could generate only 50 yards of total offense.
In the Horns' 40-0 victory at Desert Ridge, the Jaguars' offense was practically nonexistent.
When Payson takes control of the ball, it will be behind an offensive line that has played well most of the season.
Anchored by center Kyle Sachak, the linemen are Nick DeGroot, Donnie Engler, Kevin Allen and Greg Barnes.
One of the biggest concerns for those in the trenches is to eliminate blocking mistakes and penalties. Against Desert Ridge, Payson was ticketed 10 times for 77 yards. Several of those penalties were for holding.
At the onset of the season, coach Jerry Rhoades was asked, since this year's schedule was identical to last year's, what prevents the Horns from again finishing 8-2 and not going to state?
His reply was that Payson's opponents had to finish with better records than last year.
Prescott is one of those teams that appears to be much improved. That makes the Longhorns' mission Friday night even more crucial.