Longhorn Football Starts This Friday

Practicing a tackle drill these two Payson Longhorns race at each other with combat in mind.

Practicing a tackle drill these two Payson Longhorns race at each other with combat in mind. Photo by Andy Towle. |

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The Longhorn football team has a preseason scrimmage with Snowflake under its belt and is now gearing up for the regular season opener Friday, Aug. 24.

The varsity will host Chino Valley; game time is at 7 p.m. at Longhorn Field.

“The team is looking for big things this year from upper classman leaders,” said coach Jake Swartwood.

Swartwood shared highlights on some of his upperclassmen.

• Senior tackle and defensive end Zack Tatman will be a force to be reckoned with; standing 6’4” and tipping the scales at 265 lbs., opposing teams will need to account for his large frame on every play.

• Playing opposite of Tatman on the offensive line is senior tackle and linebacker and Chimo Vasquez, an intense player who seeks out contact. He is a solid young man at 6’3” and 240 lbs. Vasquez is a two-year starter on the offensive line.

• Kyle Brown will anchor the team at the center position and is a true testament of off-season workouts. Brown has improved not only his overall size, but his quickness has increased tremendously. Brown will also see time as the play caller for the defense as middle linebacker. Brown’s work ethic is second to none on our team.

• Senior guard and nose tackle Ty Davis is another player we are expecting big things from this year. Ty is one of our best defensive players on the field. His quickness and agility at the nose position will warrant double teams throughout most of our games.

• The linebacker crew of the Longhorns looks to be one of the strong points of the defense. Tanner Savage is the lone returning member of the crew and will anchor the strong side backer position. Tanner has a nose for the ball and is great in coverage.

• The addition of Sam Boatman, a senior transfer, was huge for the Longhorns. Sam has great speed and is a very instinctual player. He will also see time as running back and slot receiver this year.

• The team also looks for senior Gunner Goodman to lead the Longhorns from the quarterback position. Having a year under his belt as the signal caller has done wonders for his confidence and his ability to read the defensive coverage. His decision-making has been much improved as well over the summer in passing leagues. Gunner will also see time as a corner back this year in the 43 defense.

• Senior RJ Cox will see the majority of carries for the Longhorns. Cox was a standout at the JV level last year with more than 50 all purpose touchdowns — coming as a punt returner, kick off returner, a running back and even a rare defensive score on an interception. RJ has good speed and great vision on the field. He has also been a dedicated player throughout the off-season and increased both his speed and strength.

• Junior Tyus Sarnowski has looked great so far this year. He will hold down one of the wide out positions, opposite of fellow junior Jared Varner. The pair of speedsters have great hands and have benefited from the hard work they put in on the off-season. They are both looking to make an impact on this year’s team.

The scrimmage

Swartwood offered the following synopsis to the Longhorn scrimmage with Snowflake held Thursday, Aug. 16.

“The scrimmage went very well. The format used was 10 offensive plays, then a switch to defense. No scores are kept in the scrimmage format and there is no clock either,” he said.

“The Longhorns stood toe to toe with the Lobos for the first 30 plays of the scrimmage.”

The offense started off strong, moving the ball in 4- to 5-yard increments against what many view as one of the top defenses in the state. However these drives were stalled as Snowflake began to send numerous players in at senior quarterback Gunner Goodman.

Goodman was a bit limited during the scrimmage due to an agreement made that quarterbacks would be off limits to hit, which also made them ineligible to run the ball.

The Horn defense looked to be on key for most of the game.

“We struggled with tackling in the open field at times, which ended up leading to a long Lobo touchdown,” Swartwood said, adding RJ Cox played great on both sides of the ball, running at the tailback position and defending at the corner back position. The offensive and defensive line also looked improved, led by Kyle Brown, Chimo Vasquez and Ty Davis.

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