A 4-6 record wasn’t what Payson High coaches, players and fans were hoping for when the 2011 season kicked off in August, but that mark will be the goal when the team takes to Tiger field this evening, Oct. 28, in Globe.
Although the season has been a hit and miss one for Payson, with injuries taking their toll, second-year coach Byron Quinlan is confident in what it will take for the Horns to emerge victorious against a Tiger team (3-6) that has also struggled this year, losing 41-28 to Safford, 49-7 to Thatcher and, believe it or not, 22-10, to once lowly Alchesay.
“We have to become more disciplined in our execution of plays in order to come out on top,” Quinlan said. “We also have to do a better job of firing off the line and filling our gap responsibilities.”
As for offensive play calling, Quinlan’s goal is to, “Mix things up — we have to keep them guessing and on their heels.”
Although the Tigers have had a tough year without a victory over a quality opponent, the team does have capable backs in Jonny Rentaria (No. 5), Mike Echevarria (No. 33) and Lane Phillips (No. 20).
“They have large backs that are strong runners and run straight forward,” said Quinlan. “They rely on their running game.”
Rentaria is the Tigers’ go-to back, with 104 carries for 641 yards and four touchdowns.
Echevarria averages 4.87 yards per carry, but is not considered a breakaway threat.
Phillips has picked up 164 yards on 37 carries.
As for passing, Quinlan’s scouting report that the Tigers are a run-first team is on target.
Globe quarterback Tyrel Bunson (No. 10) has thrown only 51 passes and completed a meager 12 with a whopping five interceptions.
Which means PHS defensive coordinator Jake Swartwood could conceivable crowd the line of scrimmage with nine defenders to shut down the powers, dives, sweeps, counters and traps.
The responsibility of putting the clamps on Rentaria and his fellow running mates will fall on the shoulder pads of linebackers Clint Harper, Chance Randall and Aaron Barnes, who only last week was moved to the position from defensive back.
If Cade DeSpain can return to the team after being out last week with the flu, his presence should help buoy the defense.
Offensively, Barnes is the team leader from his tailback spot, averaging 114 yards per game.
Gunner Goodman, who started this season at quarterback but has since moved to tailback, is also an effective ball carrier with 377 yards on 60 carries.
If the Horns go to the airways, quarterback Tyus Sarnowski, only a sophomore, has shown glimpses of being a capable passer when called upon.
Of course, the outcome of any game depends upon the play of the big boys up front, and the Horns must have Herculean efforts tonight from the likes of Tanner Savage, Jake Hacker, Ty Davis, Cody Crisp and others.
Kickoff this evening is 7 p.m.