The Payson High School boys soccer teams open the 2012 season tomorrow, Saturday, hoping to repeat some of the magic from last season when the underdog Longhorns surprised almost everyone by reaching the state semifinals before being eliminated by a 3-1 loss to Blue Ridge.
During the team’s amazing state run, which began as a lowly 12th seed, the Horns upset No. 5 Snowflake and No. 4 Willcox before being ousted by a Blue Ridge team that went on to win its third state championship. At the time BR edged the Horns, the Yellow Jackets were on a 55-game winning streak, were ranked No. 1 in the nation by MaxPreps and had outscored opponents by a mind-boggling 118-7 margin.
Game time tomorrow is 11 a.m. at Rumsey Park against a Chino Valley team PHS coach Chris Avakian expects to be formidable.
“They scrimmaged Blue Ridge and only lost 2-1,” said Avakian. “And Blue Ridge is on a three-year winning streak.”
In Payson’s season-opening scrimmage Aug. 25 at Camp Verde, the Longhorns survived a 4-3 thriller.
Tomorrow and throughout the campaign the Longhorns will be buoyed by several veterans who were stalwarts off last year’s team.
Senior Guillermo Lopez is the most experienced having been a starter for four years.
He is expected to play forward this season.
Logan Morris, Richard Nielson and Noe Vega return to anchor what is expected to be a rock-solid defense.
At the conclusion of last season, Vega, Lopez and Morris were named to postseason all-star teams.
Vega was chosen to the All Division IV first team and to the All-Section III first team.
Lopez was chosen to the All-Section III second team, as was Morris.