Wilson Dominates At Big Man Challenge

Longhorns take part in NAU football camp

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It's completely understandable why Payson High School senior Matt Wilson dominated "the height and weight" competition at the Northern Arizona University football camp Big Man Challenge.

You see, Wilson stands 6 feet, 6 inches and tips the scales at a robust 250 pounds.

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The Payson High School Longhorn summer passing league football team shined at a tournament and Big Man Challenge held on the campus of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

Which means, he's usually quite a bit larger than most other high school linemen who enter Big Man Challenges.

"Yes, Matt did very well in it," Horn coach Josh Anderson deadpanned.

After winning the height and weight test, Wilson went on to pocket the event's MVP award even though he could only participate in four of the 10 events. An ankle injury he suffered earlier in the week sidelined him from some of the challenges.

Nonetheless, Wilson's feats led the Longhorns' "Big Man" team to a second-place overall camp finish.

"We were the team with the fewest number of athletes (only five true linemen) participating, so I rotated the tight ends and fullbacks in to help us," Anderson said.

Joining Wilson in the challenge were Bryan Burke, Logan Garner, Nick Walker, Omar Guerra, David Carlen, Jeff Day and Max Johnson.

The 10 events the linemen competed in over the course of the day included the 20-yard dash, pro shuttle, broad jump, bench press, squat, obstacle course, fireman carry, truck push, log run, tug of war and, of course, height and weight.

Big Man Challenges are held at most high school and college football camps to give offensive and defensive linemen a way to measure their abilities against others who play the same positions.

Also during the NAU camp, which was held June 1 in Flagstaff, 7-on-7 passing league competitions were held.

Passing league involves quarterbacks, running backs and receivers.

"In the passing tournament we played in a four-game pool and posted a 3-1 record, losing our last game to Buckeye, 7-6," Anderson said.

Pool results propelled the Longhorns into a single-elimination tournament as a No. 3 seed.

After receiving a first round bye, the Horns whipped Mohave Valley Union.

With that victory Payson advanced to the tournament semifinals where the team was eliminated 7-0 by Mingus.

"We did extremely well as we were the only 3A team, other than Ganado," Anderson said. "Everybody else was 4A (division) 1 or 2."

The coach lauded the team's defensive effort and cited the offense for its day-long improvement.

But as good as the "O" and "D" was, the Longhorns did suffer some setbacks in Flagstaff especially when Shane Keith and Cody Sexton went down with minor injuries.

"It's never fun to get a nagging injury, but both had to sit out," Anderson said.

Losing the duo was tougher on Payson than similar losses would have been on depth-rich 4A metropolitan schools.

"It's not just two athletes sitting out, it's like four for us because they both play on offense and defense," Anderson said.

Among those participating in the passing tournament were Tyler Savage, Nick Goodman, Ridge Halenar, Cliff Lopez, Westin Gibson, Nick Johnson and Jake Sleeper.

Sophomore Payson Herring, who showed great promise last season as a first-year running back, traveled with the team but did not play because he was recovering from a recent operation.

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