The third and final of the All-Division IV football selections are finally in and the choices are quite unique.
What’s unusual about the team choices is that about 30 selections were made for both the first and second teams.
On most postseason teams, only 11 defensive and 11 offensive players are chosen.
Also, some players were selected to the teams more than once, which is a break from tradition when an athlete could be chosen only once.
For example in the most recent voting, Blue Ridge’s Danny Groebner was chosen to either the first or second All-Division IV teams a whopping five times.
He was named as a first team running back and punt returner and on the second team as a defensive back, kick returner and placekicker.
Being chosen that many times could be a record that will stand for years to come.
The postseason honorees, which were announced Dec. 12 on AIA365.com were made by high school head coaches in a first-ever online statewide voting process that turned somewhat controversial when some veteran coaches wanted to continue selecting honorees in face-to-face meetings as they had done for decades.
In the inaugural online process, each head coach had the chance to nominate athletes from their school for recognition. Coaches were then allowed to vote on all nominations.
While no Payson High players were named to the All-Division first team, four were tapped to the second team.
Chance Randall, the division’s second-ranked tackler in regular season games, was chosen as a linebacker.
Levi Sopeland was an offensive line selection and Cade DeSpain is on the second team as a punter.
Clint Harper, a two-way starter for Payson last season, made the second team as a defensive utility or flex player.
Oddly enough, running back Aaron Barnes was not recognized despite wrapping up the regular season 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.
The All-Division IV second team also included a player, Chase Walden, with close ties to Payson High. Walden, now of Snowflake, was named as a quarterback.
Walden played football, basketball and track at Payson High before moving to Snowflake.
His older brother, Hunter, quarterbacked the PHS football team to the 1998 state football championship.
All section choices
Weeks prior to coaches selecting the All-Division IV team, they were given the opportunity to choose in a computer online voting All-Section teams from the three sections aligned in the division.
Payson’s Randall and DeSpain were named to the All-Section III first team. Randall was named as a linebacker and DeSpain as a punter.
Cody Crisp, Aaron Barnes, Cale Novack, Harper and Sopeland were second team selections.
Crisp was named as a defensive lineman, Barnes as a running back, Novack a tight end, Harper a utility player and Sopeland as an offensive lineman.
Not recognized from Payson in the online voting, but receiving All-Section honors in a meeting of S-III coaches were Garret Geske, Josh Oakley, Jake Hacker, Gunner Goodman and Tanner Savage.
Geske was a second team choice and Oakley, Hacker, Goodman and Savage received honorable mention laurels.
While the postseason recognition process often seemed to be an exercise in futility, mostly due to an AIA reconfiguration of alignments from conferences and regions to divisions and sections, PHS coach Byron Quinlan expressed his satisfaction with the outcomes.
“I am happy with the athletes we were able to get recognized, even with all the injury bugs we battled this year,” he said.
With the election process finally at an end, Quinlan finds himself gazing into the future, “I look forward to a productive offseason and know that if the kids work hard, better things are ahead for the Longhorn football program.”