Longhorns Debut Against Camp Verde In Scrimmage Friday

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Arizona Interscholastic Association rules mandate no score be kept during preseason football scrimmages.

But even if the scoreboard doesn't keep a tally and official statistics are not recorded, there's not a player, coach, booster or fan who doesn't know what the final count is.

That's just the nature of the game -- gridiron diehards want to know the winner and loser.

So, while fans are watching the 2008 Longhorns debut this evening, Aug. 22, in PHS stadium against Camp Verde, onlookers will most certainly mentally record TDs, extra points, safeties and field goals.

In addition to no official score being kept in the scrimmage, coaches are allowed on the field with the team members, play can be stopped to give instruction and there will be no kickoffs.

In the AIA's decision to allow preseason scrimmages between opposing schools, about 20 years ago, the idea was that they give coaches the opportunity to evaluate their players in game-like conditions. They also represent a chance for players to fine-tune their skills and impress coaches before the onset of the actual season.

Before the AIA began allowing the two-team scrimmages, schools could only hold intrasquad scrimmages, which were often mundane repeats of regular practices.

Against Camp Verde, the Longhorns will be playing a Luke Steege-coached team that last year finished 9-3 and was eliminated from the state tournament by a 45-12 loss to Thatcher.

This season, the Cowboy roster features 13 seniors. Several who are good-sized including two-way linemen Wally Sanders (6 feet, 265 pounds) and Anthony Garrison (5 feet, 11 inches, 225 pounds) and running back/linebacker Seth Mosley (6 feet, 5 inches, 200 pounds).

Often in scrimmages, coaches use only vanilla schemes preferring not to tip their hand before the season begins in earnest. However, Horn coach Josh Anderson and defensive coordinator Kenny Hayes are hinting the Cowboys could bring to town the spread, empty alignments they might employ down the road.

In them, there could be four wide receiver sets, which would mean the CV signal caller, possibly David Turnipseed (5 feet, 8 inches, 140 pounds), would shoulder pressure to quickly find receivers and hook up with them.

Camp Verde has traditionally run the Wing-T with its trap, sweep, boot and waggle series but the coaching staff appears to be adding to their arsenal with the addition of the empty backfield sets.

Whatever CV throws at Hayes' bandits, it will be good preparation for the regular season.

The Longhorns will counter with the power option offense the team has run the past two years after scrapping the venerable Wing-T.

Senior quarterback Ridge Halenar proved last season he is capable of pulling the trigger in the offense that will be anchored up front by two of the bigger players in the 3A conference -- 6-foot-6-inch, 245-pound Matt Wilson and 6-foot-5-inch, 220-pound Bryan Burke.

What Anderson will have to find this evening is a replacement for fullback Nick Alexander who graduated last spring.

In 2007, he led the Horns in rushing and was eventually named an Arizona Coaches Association All-Star.

Candidates to replace Alexander include Nick Goodman (5 feet, 7 inches, 165 pounds), Brandon Alexander (5 feet, 7 inches; 160 pounds) or possibly David Carlen (5 feet, 11 inches, 195 pounds) who played tight end last season.

Following this evening's scrimmage, kick off is at 5 p.m., the Horns begin preparations for the Aug. 29 season-opener in Fountain Hills.

The Horns host Winslow Sept. 5 at 7 p.m.

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