Among the Payson football fans who traveled Aug. 20 to the University of Phoenix home of the Arizona Cardinals to take in the two games of the Sollenberger Classic was PHS football coach Byron Quinlan.
The coach and other Arizona fans, however, left the stadium a bit disappointed after watching both Arizona representatives lose to Nevada prep teams.
In the first game of the twin bill, Show Low — a team the Horns will meet on Sept. 23 — was derailed 28-26 by longtime Nevada power Moapa Valley.
Scottsdale Chaparral, a team ranked 24th nationally and a big-time Arizona powerhouse, fell 42-22 to Bishop Gorman.
Moapa Valley’s win was a Nevada team first in the Sollenberger Classic.
Quinlan returned from the classic saying Show Low star Josh Weeks, a BYU commit, was a “one-man wrecking crew” especially in the first half when he totaled 157 yards and three touchdowns.
In the second half, however, Moapa made some adjustments holding Weeks to less than 100 yards.
As had been rumored, Show Low showed in the game a “wildcat” offense in which Weeks, normally a wide receiver, took over at quarterback.
In the final seconds, after quarterback Zach Winn had connected with Brian Johnson on a five-yard TD pass that pulled Show Low to within 28-26, the Cougars had a golden chance to tie the score.
But a two-point conversion pass slipped out of the Cougar receiver’s hands preserving the Nevada victory.
In the “big school” televised clash, Bishop Gorman opened the second half with 28 unanswered points to erase a seven-point deficit for the victory.
For the Gaels, senior running back Shaquille Powell ran over, around and through Chaparral defenders scoring six touchdowns.
As good as Powell was, Quinlan lauded the play of Bishop Gorman’s offensive line, saying they were some of the biggest he’s seen in prep football.
Powell echoed those same thoughts during postgame interviews, calling the group, the “best linemen in the nation.”
The Classic is played each year in memory of Barry Sollenberger, a 1964 graduate of Arcadia High School, who for decades diligently compiled information and statistics on Arizona high school athletes in most every sport.
He is being hailed as the journalist and historian who has done the most to preserve the history of Arizona high school athletics.
He began publishing Phoenix Metro Football Magazine in 1970 and continued to do so until his untimely death seven years ago.
Since 2006, the Barry Sollenberger Classic has been played as a season-opening football contest for two of the Arizona high school championship teams to take on out-of-state competition.