Longhorn fullback Nick Alexander, a 5-foot, 8-inch, 195-pound senior, has bulled his way to the top of East region's rushing ladder.
Running mostly dives and traps, while blocking on powers, Alexander has racked up a four-game total of 530 yards.
His nearest competitor, Snowflake speedster Devon Peterson, is second in the region with 418 yards. Alchesay's Stephone Hanna is third, with 415 yards.
Most impressive about Alexander's achievement is that most of his yardage comes between the tackles, where open space is hard to come by.
Usually, he must break three or four tackles to pick up only a few yards.
About the only time the hard-charging Alexander has been kept in check this season was last week in the Horns 29-6 win over Chino Valley. Against the Cougars, he picked up 73 yards on 11 carries.
A week earlier in a victory over Florence, he had 141 yards on 10 carries.
Through the airways, quarterback Ridge Halenar, who is the fifth-ranked passer in the region with 297 yards, leads the Payson attack.
The East passing stats are paced by Round Valley's strong-armed Hayden Eagar, who has thrown for a whopping 1,198 yards.
Defensively, Halenar is third-ranked in the region with three interceptions -- all of which occurred in the win over Chino Valley.
Junior middle linebacker David Carlen is ranked second in the East, with 54 tackles. Fellow linebacker Tyler Savage, also a linebacker, is fifth, with 39.
Round Valley's Travis Trickey, a senior bound for the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, is the region tackles leader with 74.
Payson does not have an athlete ranked in the East's top-five scoring leaders.
Taking on the Bears
The Longhorn standouts and their teammates return to action this evening, Friday, against Class 4A Bradshaw Mountain.
The Bears travel to Payson with a 2-2 record. BM beat Buckeye 10-7 and Prescott 17-16 in double overtime, but have lost to Notre Dame Prep, 27-22, and Greenway, 20-19.
Longhorn defensive coordinator Kenny Hayes said the Bears are a formidable team and could be the best squad the Horns have faced this season.
The Bears will bring to the Rim Country a three-pronged offensive attack led by quarterback Marshall Bailey, running back Ben Pigg and receiver Justin Kilduff.
Bailey is tied for the 4A Grand Canyon region leading in passing with 317 yards, Kilduff has 252 yards in receiving and Pigg has rushed for 325 yards.
The Bears feature a second top-notch ball carrier in senior Tyler Collins (234 yards).
Defensively, Steven Dutson and Kevin Galleher have joined forces for 61 total tackles.
Bear coach Chuck Apap, in his third year formerly coached in Michigan for about 35 years. There, he fielded state championship caliber teams and had several players earn D-1 scholarships. He also is a proponent of the Wing-T and is known to give offensive clinics. Last summer, Apap was one of 51 coaches chosen to attend the NFL Youth Football Summit in Canton, Ohio, as part of the festivities leading to the Hall of Fame Inductions.
Expect BM to run a high school version of the Delaware Wing-T offense, similar to what the Horns ran last year.
A key to countering the wing-T, will be for Hayes's defensive bandits to stay at home, read, split double teams and fight off angle blocks. Kick off is 7 p.m.