The old adage “to the victor goes the spoils” proved extremely prophetic Dec. 13 when football coaches from the 3A conference cast their ballots for the all-state team.
The Longhorns, who were victorious in only three games, had just four players selected, and all were honorable mentions.
At the other end of the spectrum, state champion Blue Ridge, who finished the season 13-0, had 16 players honored, including defensive player of the year Keevan Schimmel and offensive POY Jake Miexler.
For Payson, Nick Johnson and Max Johnson received honorable mention laurels on defense.
Logan Garner and Mason Dacanay were tapped honorable mention on offense.
Last month, in a voting of region coaches, Dacanay and Garner were named to the East region first team offense, and Max Johnson and Nick Johnson were named to the first team defense.
At the conclusion of the 2008 campaign, Garner was tapped to the East and all-state first teams. Dacanay was All-East second team and all-state honorable mention.
With Dacanay (5 feet, 10 inches, 297 pounds), Garner (5 feet, 9 inches, 232 pounds) and Shaffer Keith (6 feet, 1 inch, 284 pounds), the Longhorns had one of the largest trio of linemen in the state.
They have shown the potential, and have the size, to play at the next level if they so desire.
In 2009, Nick Johnson held down the middle linebacker slot in defensive coordinator Byron Quinlan’s 43 scheme. Known as a bruising tackler with a nose for the ball, he wrapped up the season as the East’s leading tackler, with 153 stops.
Although he was honored for defense rather than offense, he also was the Horns’ starting fullback and led the team in rushing with 435 yards on 92 carries.
Max Johnson started the entire season at strong side backer and was second in the East in tackles with 88. He also had three interceptions to tie for the region lead. On offense, he played tight end.
Blue Ridge coach Paul Moro stresses the all-state team was selected by 3A coaches; and another all-state team, for 1A through 3A schools, will be selected by the Arizona Football Coaches Association.
All-stars to come
Also to be announced soon are players chosen to participate in the annual Arizona Football Coaches Association North vs. South All-star game.
Only seniors are eligible to participate, and the game is played each June at the Surprise Recreational Facilities, which is also the spring training home of the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers.
Selected players and coaches are housed and fed by area hotels and restaurants through the five-day event. Players are treated to activities every night including a swimming party and movie night at the stadium.
The all-star game is modeled after NCAA Division I programs. Cox 7 will televise the game.
Payson has a rich history at the football all-star game dating back to the early 1970s.
Last season, the Longhorns had five players chosen to participate on the North celestial squad coached by ex-PHS coach Josh Anderson.
In 2006, former Horn running back Luke Apfel was named the game’s outstanding player.