A rock-solid defense mixed with the rushing efforts of senior tailback Luke Apfel, led the Longhorns to a season-opening 34-0 win over the Parker Broncos.
In the nonregion Class 3A clash, played Aug. 25 in the searing desert heat of Parker, coach Jerry Rhoades' 43 defense held the Broncos to 19 yards rushing, 68 yards passing and six first downs.
While the defense stymied Parker coach Rich Hoyt's option offense, Apfel turned up the heat in the Horn backfield. The speedster was credited with an all-around stellar effort that included 115 yards rushing, 21 yards receiving two punt returns for 40 yards and a kickoff return for another 33.
And he accomplished all that while playing cornerback on defense.
It was the kind of a showing that could earn Apfel -- should he maintain the sizzling pace -- postseason honors.
Because Apfel is a battle-tested senior, his showing was anticipated. The big question mark entering the fray was the play of sophomore quarterback B.J. Hill who had never taken a varsity snap in his short career.
Hill turned in a decent effort for a fledgling signal caller, rushing for 31 yards on nine carries and completing one of three passes for 21 yards.
As a team, the Horns also turned in a reasonably mistake-free game for a season opener, losing just one of three fumbles.
The Longhorns were ticketed six times, losing 39 yards.
In time of possession, Payson held the ball 31:12 and Parker had possession of the pigskin for 16:48.
In addition to the efforts of Apfel and Hill, the Longhorns received a boost from Shelton Keith, Brenden McLaws and Derrick Hoosava.
Keith rushed for 38 yards on 10 carries, McLaws picked up 23 on six carries and Hoosava punted three times for 131 yards - a 43.7 average.
Next up for the Longhorns is a Sept. 2 clash in Winslow against a Bulldog team that is expected to be one of the premier squads in the 3A ranks. The Bulldogs belong to the North region.
Kick off is 7 p.m.
Freshmen will play 4 p.m., Sept. 1, and jayvee at 6 p.m. in Longhorn stadium.