The Longhorn football team (2-2 overall, 1-0 in the East), reeling from last week's 56-6 loss to Chandler Seton, rebounded to thump the Holbrook Roadrunners 40-0.
In the Sept. 16 PHS home-opener, speedy senior tailback Luke Apfel turned on the afterburners to rush for a career-high 243 yards on 16 carries.
As mind-boggling as those numbers are, they could have been much greater. Apfel had a 58-yard touchdown scamper called back on a holding penalty and didn't play much of the fourth quarter when coach Jerry Rhoades called off the dogs by benching most of his starters.
Apfel got the Longhorn express on track and steaming toward victory with 7:21 remaining in the first quarter on a 74-yard scoring run. After a 37-yard Nate Doyle field goal pushed the Horn lead to 10-0, Apfel scored again on a 43-yard TD dart.
Apfel scored his third touchdown on a 23-yard run with 7:28 remaining in the third quarter.
In addition to the scoring and ball carrying of Apfel, the Horn offense received boosts from Cash Armstrong, Josh Blalock, Brennon McLaws and Shelton Keith.
Armstrong rushed for 75 yards, including a 61-yard scoring run, and Blalock picked up 70 yards as the Horns' starting signal caller. McLaws finished with 75 yards and Keith tacked on 67.
The Longhorn running attack put on a Vince Lombardi-like ground show racking up a whopping 512 yards. With the rock 'em, sock 'em running game dominating, the Horns didn't need much of an aerial attack. Blalock completed two of seven attempts for 29 yards and had one pass intercepted.
If Payson fans thought the offense was on the field most of the time, they were correct. The Horns controlled the ball for more than 50 minutes of the 60-minute game.
"D" steps up
While the offense was hitting on all cylinders, Rhoades' 43 defense overwhelmed Holbrook, limiting the Runners to a minus six yards on the ground.
During the pre-game practice week, Rhoades made some adjustments to the defense in an effort to correct problems the team showed in the loss to Seton.
"We ran some slants and lined up some (players) differently," he said. "But they just played better, too."
The defense also frustrated Holbrook through the airways, allowing just seven completions in 17 pass attempts for 125 yards. Horn defenders pilfered three errant enemy aerials.
Rhoades cited corner back Derrick Hoosava, defensive end Luke Runzo and Armstrong, at middle linebacker, for their solid play.
"I thought all three of them played pretty well," he said.
Next up for the Longhorns is the always-tough Snowflake Lobos Sept. 23 in Snowflake. Kickoff in the 3A East showdown is 7 p.m.
A win over the Lobos, who are projected to battle for the East championship, would be a huge step in earning the Horns a top-four region finish and a berth into the state tournament.
See photo gallery of the Longhorns' first home football game.