Scrimmage Showcases 2006 Phs Football Team With Mixed Results

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For first year Payson High School football coach Josh Anderson, a season opening controlled scrimmage yielded just the results the Arizona Interscholastic Association had in mind when they legalized them two decades ago.

"It was a learning tool and a great way for the kids to get experience," he said. "We got everything we wanted out of it."

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Longhorn sophomore quarterback Ridge Halenar receives some signal calling tips during the Payson vs. Florence scrimmage Aug. 18 in PHS stadium. Halenar and his teammates will make their regular season debut Aug. 18 against visiting Parker.

In the scrimmages, no scores are kept, no special teams play is allowed and statistics are not compiled among the regular season results.

During the about two hour practice clash on Aug. 18 in Longhorn stadium against Florence, the Gophers scored twice and Payson once -- on its first possession of the game.

The Longhorns sometimes showed signs of fielding a potent offense and at other times sputtered.

"We'll work on the things we need to this (practice) week," Anderson said.

The new coach also serves as the team's offensive coordinator.

Sophomore Ridge Halenar received the starting quarterback call from Anderson and threw two completions to senior wide receiver Miles Huff -- one of the few returning starters on a roster filled with sophomores.

Chris Eavenson also had a reception.

Defensively, coordinator Kenny Hayes cited sophomore middle linebacker Steele Armstrong for his efforts.

"We expected him to have that type of game," he said.

Last season as a freshman, Armstrong earned a starting linebacker position and went on to be named to the all-region team.

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The Payson defense, coached by coordinator Kenny Hayes, will have to be at its best in the upcoming East region season. Defense is shown Aug. 18 against Florence.

Excelling in football is nothing new for him and his family. The teen hails from a long line of Longhorn standouts including his older brothers Jimbo, Levi and Cash.

All were all-stars during their tenure on PHS football team.

Hayes also cited "Willie," weak side linebacker Zack Miller, for his spirited play as well as strong side defensive end Zack Rogers.

The touchdowns the defense did give up were the result of long pass plays.

"Our d-backs fell asleep," Hayes said.

With the scrimmage now history, the Longhorns begin preparations for the regular season opener Aug. 25 against Parker. Game time is 7 p.m. in PHS stadium.

Last year in Parker, the Longhorns ran roughshod 34-0 over the Broncs.

But Payson's team this season is much different than the 2005 edition that featured school rushing record holder Luke Apfel in the backfield.

Apfel rushed for over 2,000 yards and earned Outstanding Player award in last spring's North vs. South All-Star game.

Friday's clash against Parker might jolt some old memories in Bronco coach Rich Hoyt, formerly of Snowflake.

During his years at the helm of the Lobo program, his Snowflake teams and Payson locked horns in several memorable gridiron battles, including one in 1986 when the Lobos beat the Horns 7-0 in the state championship.

Hoyt has since been inducted into the Arizona Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

-- To reach Max Foster call 474-5251 ext. 114 or e-mail mfoster@payson.com.

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