While Tanner Savage receives a hand off in a recent Payson High School practice drill, other members of the team prepare for their chance at practicing exchanges.
Photo by Andy Towle.
The Payson Longhorn football team’s season-opening scrimmage against Snowflake previously slated for 7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 17 and been rescheduled for 6 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 16.
The change was made to accommodate a Snowflake coach whose father died and services are set for Friday.
In preseason scrimmages, coaches are allowed on the field and may stop play to provide instruction.
Also no score is kept, there are no punts or kickoffs and each team is given sets of downs on both offense and defense.
The season kicks off in earnest at 7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 24 against Chino Valley in PHS stadium.
For Thursday’s scrimmage, the Lobos will be without the services of quarterback Chase Walden who attended Payson High and played three sports for the Horns before moving in the summer of 2011 to Snowflake.
Reportedly, Walden injured his knee in the off-season, underwent surgery and will be out for the year.
Walden was last season one of the finest quarterbacks in the state throwing for 1,597 yards and 16 touchdowns.
He was also a threat rushing the ball picking up 995 yards and 22 TDs.
Walden is the younger brother of former Longhorn sports standouts Jayden and Hunter Walden.
Even without Walden, the Lobos will be a formidable team coming off a 10-2 season in which the team advanced to the state semifinals before losing to Florence.
The Horns will debut under first-year head coach Jake Swartwood who is no stranger to local fans having excelled in three sports during his athletic career at Payson High. He was an all-region football and basketball player and a hurdler in track and field. He has been a member of the PHS football coaching staff for four years and spent one season at Dakota State University as a graduate assistant to the football program.
Swartwood was hired in the summer to replace former coach Byron Quinlan who resigned to move to Montana where he is a school guidance counselor and coach.