It’s hard to improve on what Maasai Maynor did as a junior quarterback for the St. Peter’s Prep football team.
After all, Maynor merely passed for almost 2,500 yards and 21 touchdowns last season. Those are All-State caliber statistics.
But before the 2018 season began, there was an aspect to Maynor’s game that was addressed by the Marauders’ coaching staff.
“I think that we were a little pass happy last year,” Maynor said. “I had to come in this year and be able to run the ball. I didn’t want to be a one-dimensional quarterback.”
Maynor did carry the ball last year 80 times for almost 350 yards, but most of those carries were under duress and certainly not planned.
“We have a new offensive coordinator this year [Ryan O’Flaherty] and I think it was just a case of getting used to the new coordinator. The running game opens up the passing game, no question, and makes me a better player. I knew that the running game was going to be special this year.”
It also helps Maynor to have a very talented running back in Anthony Summey, who is displaying the explosiveness in the Marauder backfield that had been missing last season.
“The offensive line also helps the running game as well,” Maynor said.
But it all starts with the guy calling the shots. And Maynor has strategically run the ball with authority, much like the two young men who preceded him as the Prep signal caller, namely Brandon Wimbush (currently at Notre Dame) and Johnathan Lewis (currently at Rutgers), both of whom were two-time Hudson Reporter Offensive Players of the Year.
“I think very much like Brandon, Maasai is a throw-first, run-second type quarterback,” said veteran head coach Rich Hansen, who is in his 31st season as the Marauders’ mentor. “I think he knows the best plays that are in his body and a quarterback can extend plays and turn something bad into something good. Having that option is huge.”
Hansen also believes that having a reliable backup quarterback like sophomore Tahjmell Bullock ready helps Maynor as a runner.
If Maynor gets hurt, then Bullock is prepared to fill in.
“Last year, we didn’t want to rush Tahjmell,” Hansen said. “He’s very athletic, but he was also very green. So we didn’t call plays for Maasai because we didn’t want to expose him to getting hurt. This year, it’s a little different. We’re not afraid to use him. We can use Maasai more with an open playbook.”
Bullock was called upon early last week against Union City, when Maynor was injured during the first series. But Maynor later returned to action.
In any case, Maynor is clearly more of a talented runner this year than ever before, making him more of a scary threat. His run-pass option is off the board and reminds many of former Prep quarterbacks like Wimbush, Lewis, former University of Nebraska QB Joe Dailey and even former New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens safety Will Hill, who was the best high school football player of all-time when he graduated from Prep in 2006.
Two weeks ago, Maynor had the game of a lifetime, when he led the Marauders to a 34-7 victory over archrival Bergen Catholic. Maynor completed 16 of 21 passes for 258 yards and four touchdowns while he carried the ball eight times for 59 yards.
Last week in a 35-7 win over Union City, Maynor completed 12 of 19 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown and carried the ball six times for 36 yards.
On the season, Maynor has passed for 739 yards and nine touchdowns, but has carried the ball 17 times for 171 yards, an average of 10 yards per carry.
And for his efforts, Maynor has been selected as The Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Week for the past week. It marks the second time that Maynor has been selected for the weekly honor, having also been named last season.
Hansen knows he has an improved player this season.
“I think the improvement comes in his reads,” Hansen said.”He’s reading the defenses better and coupled with his athleticism, every play now has a chance to be a plus. He also has more weapons around him.”
Receivers like Ayir Asante, Byron Shipman and Chase Jones, coupled with a home run running back in Summey, have made Maynor’s job a lot easier this season. It’s the main reason why the Marauders are currently ranked No. 1 statewide in two major polls.
Maynor said that he learned a lot watching studs like Wimbush and Lewis before him.
“I feel like knowing Brandon and John have helped me,” Maynor said. “I feel like having the running game is important, that if no one is open, I just try to get as many yards as I can. I always knew that I could run. I now know I can do it more. I think that this year’s team is more dominant and has a lot more to offer.”
Maynor has already committed to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis. The Navy coaching staff has already indicated to Maynor that they will go away from the triple option offense to a more conventional attack when Maynor arrives.
“The recruiting process was very stressful,” Maynor said. “I think committing to Navy early helped me a lot. I took a visit there, talked to the coaches and they told me that they are going to open up the playbook when I get there. It meant a lot to me. I feel like I’m ready for going to a military school.”
Maynor said that he spoke in depth with former Prep All-State lineman Dave Tolentino, who is currently a senior defensive lineman at Navy, about what life will be like at Annapolis.
If all goes according to plan, Maynor will leave Prep as the school’s all-time leading passer, breaking Wimbush’s record and leapfrogging the other greats mentioned above.
“I always want to leave a legacy,” Maynor said. “Winning a state championship would definitely do that.”