For many high school football coaches, a win, is a win, is a win, and they are happy to add even the narrowest of triumphs to their resumes.
But for Payson’s Byron Quinlan, a season opening 19-12 win over Chino Valley certainly wasn’t a victory he’s doing handsprings over.
“Ugliest win I’ve ever been a part of,” he lamented.
In fact, the second-year head coach’s disgruntlement over the win Aug. 26 in Chino Valley prompted him to begin problem solving scheming as soon as the final gun sounded.
Mental mistakes, questionable calls from officials, players lining up incorrectly, blown assignments, a lightning delay, injured players and a breakdown of headphones are among the problems the team suffered in Chino Valley.
Quinlan says his goal is to have the difficulties ironed out by the time the team takes to Longhorn field Sept. 2 to take on Camp Verde.
Which means the team must be more disciplined; offensive players must stay with the blocks much longer; and everyone work to reduce the number of penalties.
“We work on those things every practice, but didn’t do them in the game,” said Quinlan. “We’ve got to clean things up.”
Which means, the staff will also be paying increased attention to an offensive line that’s undergoing a multitude of changes due to missed practices and injuries.
In fact, against CV the line was without Tanner Savage, one of its finest performers.
In an effort to shore up the line, the staff is using Levi Sopeland, a former defensive player, at tackle and Kyle Brown is playing guard on both sides of the ball.
In Chino Valley coach Bob David is shouldering the blame for his team’s loss saying he should not have attempted to go for a first down on a fourth and short situation with his team trailing 13-12 and about seven minutes remaining in the game.
The Cougars failed to make the first down allowing the Horns to take over in decent field position.
Only minutes later on a broken play, quarterback Gunner Goodman scrambled into the end zone to give the Horns a 19-12 lead the team would never relinquish.
“Gunner did a good job of scrambling all night long,” said Quinlan.
The Horns took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a TD run by Aaron Barnes who only recently transferred to PHS.
CV scored in the second quarter to close within 7-6 at halftime. In the third quarter Payson scored on another Aaron Barnes run from a power I formation, which Quinlan calls a “Jumbo Set.” Up-backs Clint Harper and Chance Randall paved the way with their blocking.
The Cougars roared right back in the quarter to pull within 13-12 and throw a big-time scare into the Longhorns.
Defensively, the coach praised the play of strong side linebackers Chance Randall and Cade Despain in the Horns newly installed 3-5 defense.
The Chino offensive line, with several 250-plus pounders, held a huge size advantage over the Horns, but the Payson “D” held the Cougars pretty much in check allowing just 31 rushing yards.
CV quarterback Joshua Custodio rushed for 21 yards on 10 carries after being billed in the preseason as both a running and throwing threat.
Through the airways, the Payson secondary had two interceptions, gave up just one TD and limited the CV signal caller to eight completions in 20 attempts.
“Our corners played well,” said Quinlan.
Kickoff on Friday vs. Camp Verde is 7 p.m.