In Camp Verde, they’re confidently claiming “It’s our year” — meaning fans, coaches and players believe the school has the football talent to make a run at the Division V or “state” championship.
The results of the Cowboys 2011 season-opening game, a 38-14 win over a good Scottsdale Christian team, seem to indicate CV boosters are correct in their assessments that the team is indeed a title contender.
PHS coach Byron Quinlan is also among those throwing respect Camp Verde’s way.
“They are good, very good,” he said in midweek after watching videos of the Cowboys’ win over SC.
Much of the reason for the gridiron optimism in Camp Verde is due to the presence of eight returning offensive starters and seven returning defensive starters from last year’s 6-6 team.
The ace on the team might be quarterback-linebacker Deshon Tripp, who wears jersey No. 1.
In the win over Scottsdale Christian. he had 100-plus yards rushing and 100-plus yards passing.
Scouting reports indicate he operates out of a Wildcat-like spread formation from which he has the option of running or passing.
In the same backfield with Tripp, wearing No. 20, is running back Kody Rayburn, who sometimes aligns himself at Z-back, or wingback, where he runs jet sweeps.
“He is very quick,” said Quinlan.
Chris Zellner, a 205-pound senior running back wearing No. 14, shines on counter plays.
On occasion, Camp Verde sometimes aligns in a vintage T-formation, similar to what Chino Valley operated last week in the Horns’ 19-12 win.
Defensively, the Cowboys are mostly a base 3-4 team.
While Camp Verde doesn’t have the hulking size that Chino Valley possesses, the Cowboys do have some good-sized linemen in 260-pound Tony Maganelli (No. 67), 250-pound Josh Collins (No. 65) and center Andy Minner, 235-pounds (No. 59).
Payson’s offense vs. Camp Verde might be an instant replay of the run-oriented attack the team showed last week in the win at Chino Valley.
It methodically churned out 319 yards with transfer tailback Aaron Barnes picking up 119 of it on 20 rushing attempts.
Junior quarterback Gunner Goodman scrambled for 87 yards on nine attempts. Cade DeSpain picked up 41 yards and Clint Harper had 64.
Through the airways, the Horns threw for only 19 yards, which could prompt Camp Verde coach Luke Steege to stack the box this evening and try to force the Horns to open up their passing attack.
The Longhorns, however, might have the will and talent to run against even a nine-man front when Quinlan goes to the “Jumbo” or power-I package with Barnes lined up at tailback behind upbacks Chance Randall and Harper.
Defensively, the Horns could be operating more out of a 3-5 scheme the team showed for the first time against Chino Valley.
In it, Shade Eckhart, Kyle Raecke, Harper and Randall shined.
Randall finished with eight tackles and a sack, Harper added an interception to his six tackles and Eckhart, playing defensive tackle was credited with five tackles and a sack.
Raecke, a safety, who Quinlan is calling one of the most improved players on the team, recorded an interception and three tackles.
Although the Horns edged Chino Valley, Quinlan was not at all happy with the team’s performance, saying there are facets of the game the players “must clean up” before the 7 p.m. kickoff this evening in Longhorn Stadium.
Most prominent in those items that need a cleaning: penalties. Against Chino, the Horns were penalized 12 times vs. only three for the Cougars. Camp Verde appears to be superior to Chino and if a lopsided penalty situation unfolds tonight, the evening could be a long one for the Longhorns.