Longhorn defensive coordinator Kenny Hayes spent the past week fine tuning a defense he hopes will contain the Fountain Hills Falcon's multifaceted offense.
"They run a lot of double tights (ends) and some spread formations," he said. "Then they like to run powers, dives, traps, sweeps and counters."
With that arsenal at FH coach Jim Fairfield's disposal, the Falcons will offer plenty of challenges for Hayes' 43 defense that played well in the first half of last week's heartbreaking 22-21 loss to the Snowflake Lobos.
As good as the Horn defense was in the first half, it sputtered in the late going, giving up 14 fourth quarter points.
At Fountain Hills, the Falcons are frolicking with a 4-1 record and appear destined for a postseason playoff berth. Fountain Hill's only loss was 25-6 to Blue Ridge in the regular season opener.
The Falcons enter this evening's clash against the Longhorns (2-3) fresh off a 26-6 win over Sedona Red Rock.
If comparative scores mean something, which they usually don't, the two teams have met a common opponent -- Parker.
Payson saddled the Broncos 29-6, and the Falcons busted the Broncos 41-22.
If the Longhorns have a malady they hope to correct against the Falcons it is their PAT attempts.
In the loss to Snowflake, the Horns missed three consecutive extra point kick attempts.
Had they been successful, Payson would have won the game 24-22 rather than losing by a point.
Offensively, Payson will take to the field without starting tailback B.J. Hill who broke his leg in a 26-0 win over Holbrook.
The Horns are also without five players who were suspended for disciplinary reasons.
What the Horns do have against the Falcons is rapidly improving sophomore quarterback Ridge Halenar who is third in the East region in passing yardage with 539 yards.
Halenar can also run the ball well as evidenced by his two 4-yard TD runs in the loss to Snowflake.
When Halenar goes to the air, he has capable receivers in Miles Huff and Zak Miller.
While a victory this evening would be a confidence boost to the Longhorns who could still be reeling from the gut-wrenching loss to the Lobos, a "W" will not go down in the region standings.
The Falcons are members of the West region and the Horns the East.
Payson returns to region action Oct. 6 in Longhorn stadium against Alchesay.
Kick off this evening at Fountain Hills is 7 p.m.