Payson High School football coach Byron Quinlan and his gridiron protégés are sitting on pins and needles wondering when the much-anticipated All-Division (all-state) team will be announced.
“I keep looking myself,” he says. “The new system is keeping me guessing.”
The new system he’s referring to is the Arizona Interscholastic Association mandated change from a conference-region configuration to divisions and sections.
That change altered the way all-section and all-division players are now selected.
The Section III honorees have been named, but no word is forthcoming on when the Division IV all-state football players will be named.
Payson High competed last season in Division IV, Section III after spending years in the now defunct 3A Conference East Region.
While coaches await final word on the All-Division IV selections, at least one entity has wasted no time in naming its first and second team members.
Arizona Sports Network, which is run by an official simply known as “Coach P” has been naming all-state teams for the past five seasons and this year chose Payson linebacker Chance Randall first team and tailback Aaron Barnes second team.
Coach P says voting for second team members is continuing and it’s possible even more Payson players will be selected.
The Arizona Republic also names All-Division teams and they will be published in Dec. 11 editions.
Arizona Sports Network’s selection of Randall to the first team is akin to a no-brainer mostly because he was one of the finest linebackers in the state finishing as the division’s second-ranked tackler with 137, or an average of 13.7 per game.
He was also a three-time Player of the Week selection, having been chosen Sept. 2 vs. Camp Verde, Sept. 23 vs. Show Low, and Oct. 14 vs. River Valley.
The only division player credited with more tackles than Randall the past season was Mingus senior Jordan Westover who had 169 or an average of 15.4 per game.
Quinlan praises Randall “as having a natural nose for the ball and as one of the most recognizable athletes on our team by other coaches.”
Barnes, a tailback, wrapped up the year ranked fifth in rushing among all running backs in Division IV.
In 144 attempts, Barnes picked up 1,079 yards or a 107.9 average per game. He also scored four touchdowns.
Barnes was also Payson High’s Player of the Week following an Aug. 26 win over Chino Valley and again on Oct. 28 after the Horns wrapped up the season with a win at Globe.
“He had a great year,” said Quinlan.” He was a great addition when he joined our team after a move from Kansas.”
Both Randall and Barnes were picked last month to the All-Section II first team.