To purchase picturres of the Payson High School football practice click here Payson High School Football practice
Although PHS second-year football coach Jake Swartwood would have preferred his team dominate its three-way preseason scrimmage on Friday evening in Longhorn stadium, the debut wrapped up with mixed reviews.
Against Winslow in the first scrimmage, the Horns were overwhelmed by a more physical and faster Bulldog team, but against Camp Verde, in the second scrimmage, Payson was clearly the superior team.
Swartwood said the physicality of the Winslow players caught his team off guard partly because they were accustomed to only intrasquad scrimmages that often aren’t highly competitive.
“Winslow is fast, strong and well coached,” Swartwood said. “Our players were shell shocked.”
After facing Winslow, the coach continued, “Our goal is to be where they are.”
While official scores are not recorded in preseason scrimmages, the fast and furious Dogs outscored the Horns three touchdowns to one.
One of Winslow’s TDs was the result of blown pass coverage, which Swartwood aims to fix in this week’s practice sessions.
In the rout of Camp Verde, Swartwood was able to play many of his younger players who will probably see mostly junior varsity action during the upcoming season.
Again an official score was not kept, but PHS outscored the Cowboys six touchdowns to one.
The almost startling news coming out of the scrimmage was that the coaching staff might have discovered a diamond in the rough.
“We have ourselves a new running back who looks really, really good,” said Swartwood.
Sophomore Dalton Conway, who played center on last year’s freshman team, lit up the Cowboys especially on his first carry when he broke off a 50-yard TD scamper.
“He might weigh 130 pounds dripping wet, but he’s tough,” said Swartwood.
The coach continued to rave about Conway’s toughness, which allowed him to consistently bowl over defenders attempting to drag him to the turf.
With Conway in the running back mix, the Horns now have four players battling for playing time at the position.
Although the team did not suffer any injuries in the scrimmage, coaches held out center and Mike linebacker Dakota Harold due to shin splints.
“We want him to be ready for next week (vs. Wickenburg),” Swartwood said.
Kickoff vs. the Wranglers is 7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 30 in PHS stadium.