It's not often freshmen have the opportunity to see action in a state tournament playoff game.
But that's exactly what occurred Friday evening in Longhorn Stadium during Payson High's 58-26 stampede over the Parker Broncos.
After the Horns (8-3) jumped out to a 37-14 third quarter lead, coach Josh Anderson began substituting younger players into the line-up in an effort to hold the lopsided score down
Only problem was, speedy freshman Payson Herring wanted no part of slowing down the pace. The first year running back scored two late TD's, one on a kickoff return. His first varsity TD, which was scored with 5:55 remaining in the game, upped the Longhorn cushion to 50-14. Also, rookie Westin Gibson shined on the defensive side of the ball making several tackles.
With the state first round victory, Payson now moves to the tournament's elite eight and plays at 8 p.m. Nov. 9 at Chandler Perry High School against the two-time defending state champion Coolidge Bears. Coolidge advanced to the quarterfinals with a 32-13 opening round win over Eloy Santa Cruz.
In other state games involving East region schools, undefeated and top ranked Blue Ridge muscled past Fountain Hills 28-6 and Round Valley beat Chino Valley 21-7.
The only East team to lose was Snowflake who dropped a 23-12 decision to River Valley. All the East teams opened the tournament at home by virtue of their higher seeds.
Payson entered the state tournament as a No. 6 seed and Parker, of the West division, advanced as a No. 14 seed in the 16-team field.