Mayfield rare pocket passer for Panthers offense

Bralyn Mayfield

By T. Scott Boatright

Lincoln Preparatory School head football coach Glen Hall has always preferred run-first offenses.

But part of Hall’s hopes for this remainder of this  season are based on the arm of  6-4, 175-pound senior Bralyn Mayfield.

In Lincoln Prep’s season opener and Mayfield’s first official snaps at quarterback after primarily playing wide receiver and defensive back last season, a 25-yard naked bootleg for a touchdown was his highlight in a 14-6 win at Madison.

Mayfield’s big highlight in Game 2 — a win at Plain Dealing — was another naked bootleg, that time going 20 yards for a score. But he also connected on seven-of-seven passes for 210 yards.

In a Game 3 loss at Arcadia, Mayfield completed seven-of-15 passes for 90 yards with two interceptions.

But during last week’s at Jonesboro-Hodge, which the Tigers won 30-26 after scoring the go-ahead touchdown with less than a minute to play, Mayfield looked like a different quarterback. He threw more passes, and seemingly grew more confident with each one he threw.

“The game plan going in was set because our coaches knew Jonesboro-Hodge had a linebacker who was going to blitz me,” Mayfield said. “So knowing that we started running screens and floods and as the game kept progressing, Coach told me just to stay comfortable back there. 

“So I stepped up and made some big plays and that boosted my team and my confidence. Now we just have to work on finishing the game. We should have had that one.”

Part of Mayfield’s increasing confidence came when one his coaches told him to be himself on the football field.

“On gameday (at J-Hodge) one of the coaches pulled me aside and told me whatever it took, I had to keep the drive alive,” Mayfield said. “He said if I don’t see anybody open, just roll out of the pocket and get out of bounds. If I can get five yards, that might be five yards we need. Something like that, just keeping a drive alive can change a game.”

Hall noticed the difference in Mayfield as the game against the Tigers progressed. That difference resulted in a 16-of-28 passing performance for 165 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. 

Mayfield added another 60-plus rushing yards against the Tigers.

“He got better every snap he took against Jonesboro,” Hall  said. “He even had input on some of the plays. That’s how I knew he was getting better. And that will keep on coming every snap he takes. 

“We’re still going to be a run-first team. But sometimes you have to be able to pass in order to open up the run. You need both those phases of offense. It works both ways. But Bralyn gives us the option to know we’ve got a big, strong-armed quarterback back there if we need to rely on that part of the game. A talented pocket-passer can always help a team, even one that likes to run first when they can.”

And the more passes Mayfield threw against the Tigers, the more and more the timing and chemistry and his receivers heated up.

“That’s been getting better and better, and I think that will show Friday night,” Mayfield said. “Last game Jamarion Buggs and Jaiden Page both stepped up big for me. Brandon Heard and Chauncy Harper both stepped up big, too, even though I had been connecting with them more in earlier games.

“We’ve all just got to trust in each other and have faith. The timing and all that will just keep getting better as the season progresses.”

Mayfield admits he thinks his height helps him as a passer.

“I can see the field well,” Mayfield said. “I can stand tall in the pocket, or if I roll I can still see downfield and find my receivers. I’m way bigger than some of the linebackers coming after me, so that is a big help for me.”

That height has also helped him as a basketball standout for the Panthers.

“Both sports are fun,” Mayfield said. “Football is way more physical and that helps me on the basketball in that part of that game. I’m tall, so playing football helps me play more physical around the rim in basketball.”

But on the gridiron, he knows that he has become most comfortable playing behind center.

“Last year I loved playing wide receiver most of all because that’s what I played on offense,” Mayfield said. “But now after playing this year, I like quarterback the best. And I’m starting to feel a lot more comfortable playing there.”

“I think I can get way better. I know I can. I’ve just got to trust myself and put my mind to it. The more comfortable I can get puts me closer and closer to the best of my game. All I have to do is keep on listening to my coaches and doing what they tell me to do.”

And that’s something his head coach believes, too.

“If he puts his mind to it, he can really be a good quarterback,” Hall said. “I say that, but  he can still be 10 times better than is now. We need him to keep getting better than he is now, every play, every game.

“But remember he’s only played the quarterback position for a few games now. He’s really a true, drop-back quarterback. But he’s only just now learning to do his reads and progressions.”

Mayfield will start getting more game snaps at 7 p.m. Friday when the 2-2 Panthers play at 3-1 Lakeside in Sibley.

 
 


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