All-East Coach Voting In; Horns Have Nine Honored


Offensive lineman Jake Gonzales was a first team All-East selection. Region coaches chose the squad at the conclusion of the regular season.

Offensive lineman Jake Gonzales was a first team All-East selection. Region coaches chose the squad at the conclusion of the regular season. Photo by Andy Towle. |

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The state football title has been decided and coaches have released the results of the All-East team voting.

Payson, which finished 5-6 overall and 2-3 in the region, had two players chosen first team offense, three named second team defense, two on the second team offense and two second team defense.

Also a pair reaped honorable mention accolades.

While the Longhorns fared reasonable well in the balloting, it was the two teams that met Saturday in the state championship game that reeled in the most honors.

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Dennis Fendler/Roundup

All East first team running back Payson Herring led the Longhorns in rushing and scoring.

Record-setting Show Low quarterback Rathen Ricedorff was named East Offensive Player of the Year and state runner-up Blue Ridge had linebacker Alex Stibbins named the Defensive Player of the Year.

Yellow Jacket coach Paul Moro was named the East Coach of the Year.

Also, the Jackets and Cougars dominated all-region elections with a total of 22 players chosen either first or second team.

For the Longhorns, Payson Herring was chosen a first team running back and Jake Gonzales tapped a first team offensive lineman.

On the first team defense were cornerback Westin Gibson, defensive end Gunner Bauer and strong side linebacker Chase Walden.

On second team defense were Clint Harper and Cameron Geske. Justin Moratti and Ryan Rislund were named to the second team offense.

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Dennis Fendler/Roundup

Justin Moratti (No. 58) was named to the All-East second team. For the Horns he played left guard.

For the Longhorns, Harper started at middle linebacker, Geske played strong safety, Moratti held down left tackle, and Rislund was a wide receiver and return specialist.

Receiving honorable mention honors for PHS were Jake Sleeper and Sean Ford.

During the 2010 campaign, Herring led the Horns in rushing, averaging 123.2 yards per game. He had a longest run of 72 yards and led the team in scoring with 13 touchdowns.

Many of his runs came off the blocks of Gonzales, who was the Horns’ most solid lineman.

While “O” linemen don’t receive many accolades, Gonzales’ selection by the coaches was a testament to his contributions.

Gibson shined offensively with 451 yards rushing, 369 yards receiving and 10 TDs, but was named to the team as a cornerback where he had 39 tackles, one interception and was widely considered one of the region’s finest cover corners.

Gibson also shined on special teams with seven punt returns for 214 yards and three kick returns for 139 yards, including a 95-yard TD romp.

Walden, who transferred to Snowflake at the end of the football season, finished with 75 tackles and five sacks. His tackles per game average of 7.5 were best on the team.

Bauer anchored the defensive line, finishing with 52 tackles, and tied Walden for the team lead in sacks with five.

Harper totaled 67 tackles averaging 6.7 per game, which was second only to Walden. He also had 1.5 sacks, a fumble recovery and a fumble caused.

Geske totaled 31 tackles and had six receptions on offense, Moratti — like Gonzales — gave the Horns a strong punch on the “O” line and Rislund finished with four receptions for 79 yards and a TD.

On defense, Risland averaged 4.8 tackles per game.

Last year, Risland was also named second team offense.

With the season at an end and the All-East selections public, players now await the naming of the all-state teams.

Traditionally, The Arizona Republic names a 1A-3A all-state team and coaches select a 3A Conference all-state team.

On Dec. 18, members of the Arizona Football Coaches Association will gather in the Valley to choose the seniors who will play in the annual North vs. South All-Star game next summer.

Payson has a rich tradition of having standout players chosen for the prestigious game, including running back Luke Apfel, who in 2006 was named the clash’s Most Valuable Player after rushing for 120 yards including a 68-yard TD scamper on the game’s very first play.

Last season, Nick Johnson and Logan Garner played in the celestial clash.

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