The curtain has fallen on Payson’s football reign as defending state champions.
It all ended Saturday afternoon at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff where the Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets defeated the Show Low Cougars 41-21 for the 2009 version of the Arizona 3A state title.
Blue Ridge’s victory might have erased some of the woe of last year’s state finale in which the Jackets lost a 34-33 double-overtime thriller to the Longhorns after leading 20-0 at halftime.
With the win, BR improved to 13-0 and Show Low wrapped up the campaign 10-4. Both schools are from the 3A East, further embellishing the region’s reputation as the home of the finest small-school football in Arizona.
Show Low, the state champion two years ago, entered the game as a legitimate passing threat behind the aerial wizardry of signal caller Rathen Reicedorf, who threw 40 TD passes last season.
However, BR’s smothering defense held him to just one scoring pass and that came after the game was decided.
Show Low was also its own worst enemy fumbling three times, twice inside its 30-yard line.
For Blue Ridge, the win was the school’s 13th championship, but the first since 2004.
Much of the credit for the Jackets’ win is being heaped on the one-two punch of quarterback Jake Meixler and running back/cornerback Keevan Schimmel.
Meixler scored four touchdowns and Schimmel had 119 yards rushing and two TDs on 23 carries.
In Blue Ridge’s 49-7 win over Payson on Oct. 16, Meixler was a one-man wrecking crew throwing for 133 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 81 yards and another two TDs.
Schimmel was equally as damaging with a rushing touchdown, a receiving touchdown, an interception and a 55-yard kick return that set up a Jacket score.