A pair of Longhorn football players has been chosen to play in the Arizona Football Coaches Association North vs. South All-Star game, and another is on the doorstep of participating.
Chosen Dec. 13 in a voting of members of the AzFCA were Logan Garner and Nick Johnson. Mason Dacanay and Max Johnson were selected alternates.
PHS coach Matt Mayo believes Dacanay deserves to be an all-star.
“There is a good chance that Mason will be bumped up to the team, he missed it by one vote,” he said. “I am confident he will be called up at some point.”
Max Johnson also has a shot at joining the team because some athletes opt out for a variety of reasons including summer employment and sometimes because college coaches caution their recruits about participating and chancing injuries.
For the all-star game, only seniors are eligible to participate, and it is played each June at the Surprise Recreational Facilities which is also the spring training home of the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers.
The event has long been a special treat, mostly because elected players and coaches are housed and fed by area hotels and restaurants throughout the five-day event. Players are treated to special activities every night, including a swimming party and movie night at the stadium.
The all-star game will be televised, for the first time, on Cox 7 and the stadium has a big screen that displays instant replays almost exactly as is done in NFL professional games.
Several of Payson past all-stars have returned from the game saying it was a first-class experience that allowed them to play alongside athletes they had competed against most of their prep careers.
Former PHS coach Josh Anderson, the North team’s head coach last year and an assistant the year before that, lauds the game as a well-deserved reward for the athletes who worked so diligently over the years to earn a much-coveted invitation.
While being selected a coaches association all-star is the greatest accomplishment a prep player can earn, all four of the PHS selections have been honored with other awards.
Garner was earlier named All-East region first team offense and was 3A All-State honorable mention on offense.
Garner, an acknowledged team leader all season long, started the season at center but, after suffering a hand injury that hampered him from snapping the ball correctly, moved to guard.
At 5-feet, 9-inches, 230 pounds, he was a physical presence on both the offensive and defensive lines.
Nick Johnson was earlier named to the All-East first team defense and was all-state honorable mention also on defense.
Playing middle linebacker where he could roam from sideline to sideline, he wrapped up the season as the East’s leading tackler, with 153 stops.
Although he was honored for defense rather than offense, Nick Johnson also was the Horns’ starting fullback and led the team in rushing with 435 yards on 92 carries.
Like Garner, Dacanay was an East region first team selection and honorable mention all-state.
He was one of the bigger linemen in the East, at 5 feet, 10 inches, 297 pounds.
At the onset of the past season, Dacanay took over starting nose guard responsibilities from Ryan Schatz, who graduated in the spring. On offense, Dacanay played both guard and tackle.
Max Johnson started 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.
He was an All-East first team selection on defense.