Victors traditionally reap the rewards of a battle well fought.
That is especially true in high school sports where players on championship teams are often the most recognized when postseason awards are doled out.
Staying true to gridiron tradition, Payson players reaped the rewards of their 14-0 state championship season by placing a bevy of athletes on the recently announced 3A All-State team. The conference’s head coaches selected the elite squad.
“We set a record for the amount of first-team athletes with the total on both sides of the ball and special teams,” PHS coach Josh Anderson said. “The kids definitely deserved everything they received.”
Topping the list of Payson honorees is senior quarterback Ridge Halenar who was named the Offensive Player of the Year.
On the first team offense from Payson are running back David Carlen, offensive tackle Matt Wilson and center Logan Garner.
Second team offensive selections include running back Brandon Alexander, tackle Bryan Burke and kicker Josh Frewin.
Payson Herring, Tyler Savage, Westin Gibson, Mason Dacanay and Schaffer Keith all received offensive honorable mention accolades.
Herring and Gibson are only sophomores.
Dacanay and Keith were both junior lineman.
Defensive Player of the Year honors went to Blue Ridge middle linebacker Steel Armstrong.
On the first team from Payson are defensive back Shane Keith, linebacker Tyler Savage and punter Cody York.
Also, both Burke and Wilson were named to the defensive line
Linebacker Nick Johnson and nose tackle Ryan Schatz were voted to the second team defense.
Honorable mention defensive team members include Max Johnson, Halenar and York.
Johnson was chosen as a linebacker and York and Halenar as defensive backs.
Halenar’s selection as Offensive Player of the Year comes on the heels of him expertly engineering the Longhorns to the state crown.
Through the airways, he completed 77 of 133 passes for 1,217 yards, 21 touchdowns and just five interceptions.
As good as he was throwing the ball, he built an even better reputation as a leader and ball carrier.
In 94 carries, he racked up 743 yards and 10 touchdowns.
He might have been at his best in the state championship game when he rallied the Longhorns from a 20-0 halftime deficit to a double-overtime victory.
Although he’s a prime-time football player, Halenar says his favorite sport is baseball and he hopes to play on the collegiate level after he graduates from PHS in the spring.