SHOW LOW – The regular season ended for Payson’s football team with another lopsided loss.
But the Longhorns will get a chance to improve on a 56-7 thumping at Show Low when they travel to take on the Cougars again in the opening round of the Division IV state playoffs at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Show Low finished 8-2 and is the No. 1 seed for the 16-team tournament. Payson finished 4-6 with three consecutive blowout defeats. But all three of those came against three of the stronger teams in the division, which is why the Longhorns are the only team with a losing record in the tournament. They finished No. 16 in the power rankings used to seed the tournament.
The victory earned the Cougars the outright Division IV Section V championship with a 5-0 record. Blue Ridge finished second at 4-1, Snowflake (3-2) third, Fountain Hills (2-3) fourth, Payson (1-4) fifth and Globe (0-6) last.
Show Low’s Brice Rova accounted for 276 all-purpose yards, rushing for 139 yards and three touchdowns and adding 80 yards on three punt returns and tacking on a 57-yard kick return. The senior led a Show Low offense that amassed 358 rushing yards and 486 yards of total offense. Colby Maxwell competed 7 of 10 passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns to Bret VanWinkle. Dallin Crandell had 114 yards of total offense, rushing for 75 yards and a score and catching two passes for 39 yards.
On Payson’s side of the line, Wyatt Chapman ran 15 times for 129 yards to lead a Payson offense that had 233 yards from scrimmage. His 15-yard run with 5:43 left in the third quarter represented the only second-half touchdown for either team as Show Low’s 56-0 halftime lead ignited a running clock after intermission.
The Cougars scored on all eight of their possessions in the first half, four touchdowns in each of the first two quarters.
Miguel Mendoza was 9 of 28 passing for 90 yards and an interception. Tyus Sarnowski caught eight passes for 70 yards.
The winner of Saturday’s game advances to the quarterfinals at the high seed at 6 p.m. Nov. 16 against the winner of Friday’s 7 p.m. game between No. 9 Safford (8-2) and No. 8 Goodyear Estrella Foothills (7-3).