PHS senior Payson Herring was the lone Longhorn player named on Dec. 26 to the Arizona Republic’s 1A-3A All-State team.
The 5-foot, 8-inch, 170-pound speedster was tapped to the second team as a running back alongside Arizona Lutheran’s Ben Grams.
Earlier this month, Herring was a 3A Coaches Association all-state selection as a first-team running back.
The major difference in the two all-state teams is that the Arizona Republic sports staff chooses it players from the 1A, 2A and 3A ranks while coaches association considers only those who played for 3A schools.
There is also an Arizona Football Coaches Association 3A Conference All-State first team chosen, but no Payson players were named.
At the conclusion of the regular season, Herring was also voted a 3A East all-region first-team running back.
Also for Payson High in the Republic’s selections, Gunner Bauer, Westin Gibson and Jake Gonzales were tapped all-state honorable mention.
Class 3A state runner-up Blue Ridge had five players chosen to the Republic’s first team, and state champion Show Low had four named.
Show Low signal-caller Rathen Ricedorf, who broke five state passing records the past season, was named the Republic’s Small School Player of the Year.
Payson fans remember, not too fondly we might add, Ricedorf lighting up the Horns for 358 yards and four touchdowns in Show Low’s 45-40 win over PHS on Oct. 29.
Phoenix Northwest Christian’s David Inness was named the Republic’s Small School Coach of the Year for leading PNC to the school’s first state championship in 11-man football.
Herring, a three-year varsity letter-winner who contributed as a sophomore to the Horns’ undefeated state-championship season, led PHS in rushing, piling up 1,231 yards on 151 carries. His averages of 8.16 yards per carry and 123.2 per game were among the best in the conference.
Herring also led the Longhorns in scoring with 13 touchdowns and was on the receiving end of seven passes for 104 yards and a TD.
On special teams, Herring had 22 kick returns for 650 yards including a longest of 95. As a punt returner, he had five returns for 89 yards.
Defensively, Herring was in on 57 tackles, 19 of them unassisted.
While some will argue that Herring’s accomplishments should have earned him a first-team running back selection, he was beaten out for first team by Coolidge’s Seth Ellis and Casey Jan of Northwest Christian.
Bauer was a Payson force all season on both sides of the ball. Playing defensive end, he averaged 5.2 tackles per games, led the team in sacks with five and had one interception.
Offensively, he had four pass receptions for 134 yards and three touchdowns.
Gibson, a highly talented all-around athlete whose best sport might be baseball, saw playing time as a cornerback, running back, quarterback and “Z” back or flanker.
In short, coach Byron Quinlan could have played him at any position and he would have found a way to contribute.
He wrapped up the season with 39 tackles and one interception. On special teams, he was the Horns’ designated punt returner with seven returns for 214 yards.
He also returned three kicks for 139 yards including a 95-yard scoring romp.
As a running back, he averaged 8.84 yards on 51 carries with a longest of 63. His eight touchdowns was second on the team only to Herring.
When filling in for starter Wade Hunsaker at quarterback, Gibson completed 5-of-9 passes for 67 yards and one interception.
All season long, Quinlan praised Gonzales as the glue that held the offensive and defensive lines together. He was acknowledged around the region as a rough and steady guard who excelled at both run and pass blocking.
Defensively, he finished with 13 tackles.
With the all-region and all-state selections completed, players will now await the announcement of those chosen to participate in the annual Arizona Football Coaches Association North vs. South All-Star game.The celestial clash is played each year in June at a Valley-area venue and infrequently in Tucson. The all-star selections will be released in early 2011. Only graduating seniors are eligible to participate.