When Maynor was in eighth grade, he was able to stand on the sidelines of a St. Peter’s Prep NJSIAA state playoff game against Bergen Catholic, where Maynor was able to witness the exploits of then-Prep quarterback Brandon Wimbush, now the starting signal caller at Notre Dame.
Maynor then enrolled at Prep and was given the opportunity to learn daily and compete every day with Johnathan Lewis, now a quarterback at Rutgers.
“I got better every day competing with John in every aspect,” Maynor said. “It wasn’t really a competition, but I got the chance to learn.”
When the 2017 high school football season began, Maynor looked around and noticed one thing: There wasn’t competition with Wimbush at Notre Dame and Lewis in Piscataway.
“At first, I said, ‘Wow, I played behind two great quarterbacks,’” Maynor said. “But then I wanted to make a name for myself. I just wanted to have a successful junior year. I just tried to absorb as much as I could the last two years and I definitely learned a lot.”
Veteran Prep head coach Rich Hansen knew that Maynor was ready for the challenge. He wasn’t going to be the next Wimbush or Lewis, but just be the best Maasai Maynor he could be.
“One thing I’ve told every quarterback I’ve coached is that they had to be themselves,” Hansen said. “Maasai has been the beneficiary of being behind some good players. But I’ll play no quarterback before his time. If you want instant gratification, then don’t come here.”
Hansen said that he put a lot of the offensive responsibility on Maynor.
“We asked him to do a lot,” Hansen said. “We put a lot on his shoulders. But it’s been great to watch him progress from week one. He’s matured so much that he now does what a veteran quarterback does.”
Hansen never doubted Maynor’s ability to handle the pressure.
“He’s very confident,” Hansen said. “He’s always been a vibrant, energetic kid. Come game time, he just gets into a zone. He knows when it’s time to put his game face on. He feeds the temperature of the team.”
Last week, when the Marauders faced Paramus Catholic in the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 4 semifinals, Maynor was at his absolute best.
Maynor completed 13-of-16 passes for 172 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 59 yards on eight attempts and scored a touchdown, leading the Marauders to a convincing 42-19 win over the Paladins, the team that defeated the Marauders in the state title game a year ago.
The victory enabled the Marauders to advance to the state championship game at MetLife Stadium this weekend against Bergen Catholic.
For his efforts, Maynor has been selected as The Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Week for the past week.
Maynor has been a standout all season, completing passes for 2,300 yards and 25 touchdowns with only four interceptions.
“I’ve been able to see the play develop,” Maynor said. “I stay in the pocket a little longer. I’ve been more accurate with the deep ball. If I do make a bad read, I try to turn the negative into a positive. My offensive line has been doing a great job, so I really don’t need to run the ball.”
“He’s been taking care of the ball,” Hansen said. “He’s been training himself to do that. He’s had a year where he’s proven himself as a quarterback. We play a very tough schedule, so what he’s done is pretty good.”
Maynor knows that he’s had only one bad game this season – and that was the regular season 41- 14 setback at the hands of Bergen Catholic Oct. 14.
“I feel like I didn’t perform well that game,” Maynor said. “I know that if I come out and play my game, then we’ll be in good shape. I’m definitely looking forward to this game.”
Maynor has another year to play for the Marauders, so he really hasn’t begun the process to find a suitable college. However, Maynor has already received scholarship offers from Rutgers, Syracuse and Temple.
“He’s going to get other big ones,” Hansen said. “He’s a big-time quarterback and they’re hard to find. He’s proven that he is. Some college really won’t care about his size [5-foot-11 and 190 pounds]. He can run well [4.5 in the 40-meter dash]. He’s smart, articulate and tough. I think the kid will produce and he will be one hell of a college quarterback some day.”
Maynor doesn’t want to look ahead, past next year into college in 2019.
“I just want to focus on winning the state championship,” Maynor said. “I’m playing for the seniors. It’s their last game. But it would be like living the dream if we win.”
Maynor will get a chance to achieve something no Prep quarterback ever accomplished – namely beating Don Bosco Prep, St. Joseph (Montvale), Paramus Catholic, DePaul Catholic and Bergen Catholic all in the same year. That would be quite an accomplishment indeed. – Jim Hague.
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.