Although the starters on the Longhorns football team didn’t receive all the playing time they yearned for in a preseason scrimmage against Camp Verde, coach Byron Quinlan was mostly satisfied with their attitudes and efforts.
“It’s good see that they want to play,” he said. “Now they will be hungry for St. Johns.”
The Longhorns and the Redskins clash Aug. 27 in the 2010 season opener. Game time is 7 p.m. in PHS stadium.
The scrimmage vs. CV was played Aug. 20 in Payson.
In it, the Payson defense looked strong, holding the Cowboys without a touchdown and not allowing much yardage.
Defensively, transfer Clint Harper played well at both linebacker and defensive end. Cale Novack, a junior, also shined at weak side linebacker and defensive end.
Noseguard Kevin Waterman drew plaudits from Quinlan for splitting double teams and establishing control of the line of scrimmage. At cornerback, Jake Sleeper — also the backup quarterback — showed the ability to down the road become a top-notch defender. Sean Ford also drew post-game praise from Quinlan for his efforts on “D.”
A true evaluation of the defense was difficult to assess because CV struggled to successfully run their spread option offense from the shotgun.
At times, Camp Verde players were their own worst enemies, missing assignments, muffing option pitches and fumbling.
Offensively, Wade Hunsaker, a senior transfer from the Valley, appears to be the signal-caller the Longhorns must have to successfully operate the power option offense.
Although the Horns didn’t throw the ball much, preferring instead to stay on the ground, Hunsaker appeared to have the arm strength to throw both short and deep to his receivers. Hunsaker also showed he is capable of running the ball, breaking loose on several dive option plays; one of which went about 35 yards around right end before three defenders brought him down.
“If our line protects him, he has the potential to be very good,” said Quinlan.
“With him, the teams we play will have to defend the pass and the run.”
The “O” line, anchored by Jake Gonzales, Sean Ford and Justin Moratti, had its ups and downs, as is usually the situation in early season games and scrimmages.
Once the linemen master techniques and improve their speed and quickness off the ball, the athletes have the size to play on even terms with the rugged East region teams.
After two series of 10 plays each, Quinlan began replacing the first-teamers, which he said, “gave us the change to evaluate a lot of our backups.”
With the scrimmage now in the rear view mirror, the players and staff begin focusing on St. Johns, which scrimmaged Blue Ridge on Aug. 20.
Yesterday, Monday, Quinlan was breaking down game films of the BR vs. St. Johns clash to compile an accurate scouting report on the Redskins.
“I was impressed with St. Johns, but they are always good,” he said.
Coach Mike Morgan has built a gridiron dynasty since his arrival in St. Johns two decades ago.
This year, the Skins are expected to field another Class II juggernaut.
Last season, St. Johns finished 10-2, which included a 19-7 win over Payson.