Parker No Match For Longhorns

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Longhorn freshman Payson Herring, a speedy, but diminutive, running back, took full advantage of his first varsity playing opportunity, scoring two touchdowns -- one on a sterling 93-yard kick off return.

The other, which lit up the scoreboard with 5:55 remaining in the game, upped the Longhorn lead to 50-14, and spelled the demise of Parker in Payson's 58-26 state tournament opening-round win.

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Longhorn running back Cliff Lopez (24) breaks through the Parker defense after receiving a handoff from quarterback Ridge Halenar.

"It was nice that the game turned out to be a little easier than I thought," PHS coach Josh Anderson said. "It was great to get every kid a chance to play and a taste of playoff action."

With the victory over the Broncos Nov. 2 in PHS stadium, Payson advances to the tournament's elite eight and will play two-time defending state champion Coolidge at 8 p.m. Nov. 9, at Chandler Perry High School.

Coolidge advanced to the quarterfinals with a first round 32-12 win over South region rival, Eloy Santa Cruz.

"Coolidge is tough and has a great running back and linebacker named BradBrad Jackson," Anderson said. "He's a stud at everything he does."

In other state playoff games on Nov. 9, No. 7 seeded Round Valley takes on undefeated and second-seed Wickenburg at 5 p.m. at Perry High School.

At Mesa Community College, East region champion and No. 1 seeded Blue Ridge will face No. 9 River Valley at 5 p.m.

That game will be followed at 8 p.m. with a clash, pitting No. 5 Show Low against No. 4 Winslow.

The victors in those games will advance to the final four, to be played at 5 and 8 p.m. Nov. 16 at Mesa College.

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David Carlen (32) attempts to break loose after hauling in a pass reception. Assisting on the block is Nick Herring (20).

The state title game, which has been Payson's goal all season long, will kick off at 5 p.m. Nov. 24 at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Horns romp, stomp Broncs

In Payson's victory over Parker, the Horns jumped out to a 20-0 lead on Nick Goodman's 23-yard run, with 5:47 remaining in the first quarter. Josh Frewin's successful conversion kick gave the Horns a 21-point lead they never relinquished.

For the evening, Goodman finished with 61 yards on eight carries.

Senior tailback B. J. Hill, who started at quarterback for Longhorns two years ago, finished with 87 yards and a TD on eight carries.

In addition to rushing touchdowns from Herring, Goodman, Hill and sophomore tailback Brandon Alexander, the Horns tacked on three scores through the airways.

Signal caller Ridge Halenar hooked up with wide out Tyler Savage on two of the strikes and tight end David Carlen on another.

Halenar first TD aerial, a 19-yarder to Savage, came with 8:04 remaining in the first quarter and gave the Horns an early 7-0 lead.

About two minutes later, Halenar and Carlen hooked up on a 16-yard scoring strike.

Halenar, a junior, finished with four completions in six attempts for 77 yards.

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Horn defender B.J. Hill (44) hauls down a Parker Bronco after a short run from scrimmage. Action took place during Payson's 58-26 state tournament opening-round win.

As effective as the gunslinger was through the airways, it was Payson's powerful ground game that gave Parker fits. The Horns finished with 313 yards on 36 rushing attempts.

The Payson "O" also did their defensive counterparts a huge favor by controlling the ball for 36:27, thus keeping Parker's spread offense off the field.

Parker signal caller Cal Hernandez passed for 207 yards and a TD, but was picked off twice-- once by Zack Brooks and the other time by Halenar.

If Parker did bring to Payson a human highlight reel, it was punter Cory Madoenczky who entered the game billed as one in the best of the state, with a 45.81 average.

Madoenczky lived up to his advanced billing, racking up 197 yards on three kicks, for a 65.67 average. One of his punts traveled 71 yards.

Defensively, middle linebacker David Carlen had 11 tackles to lead Payson. Defensive lineman Matt Wilson contributed six sacks.

As a team, defensive coordinator Kenny Hayes's bandits, held Parker's big three of Nick Grenwalt, Mike Gorrochino and Hernandez to 77 yards rushing.

On special teams, Frewin -- a former soccer player and cross-country runner -- toed seven of eight extra points and made good on a 35-yard field goal.

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An unidentified Longhorn defender puts a head lock on Parker's Josh Banuelos.

With the rugged state quarterfinals on the front burner, Frewin's presence in the lineup gives the Horns a dependable kicker who can be called upon in crunch time.

The game marked the return to the lineup of Chase Sevey, who injured his shoulder in passing lead play and was expected to miss the entire season.

"He's a tough kid, we thought he might be back," Hayes said.

When Sevey entered the game, his presence brought shouts and cheers of support from his classmates and friends.

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