Vaughn and Mayfield still neck-and-neck
Matt L. Stephens
August 6, 2011
SPRINGDALE While Bentonville and Rogers High each return starting quarterbacks from last season, the remaining four Big 6 schools are breaking in new faces under center.
And though Fayetteville, Springdale High and Rogers Heritage have a good idea which player will lead their teams at quarterback, the position battle at Springdale Har-Ber rages on.
For Har-Ber, rising seniors Austin Mayfield and Jon Vaughn will pick up Monday when the Wildcats begin fall practice, right where they left off after spring drills — neck-and-neck in a race that seems never-ending.
“They’ve both come leaps and bounds this summer from there they were this spring,” said Har-Ber quarterbacks coach Patrick Scott. “Back then, they knew this position was up for grabs and they’ve progressed well, but neither has pulled away.”
Mayfield and Vaughn differ in size at 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-4, respectively, but both are pocket passers with solid arms to connect with a plethora of talented receivers on roster.
Over the summer, the two quarterbacks gained valuable experience during 7-on-7 competitions at Shiloh Christian, the University of Alabama and Vanderbilt against top-notch opposition.
“I went through a lot of ups and downs this season during 7-on-7, but I definitely think it was for the best,” Vaughn said. “I’ve learned to overcome mistakes and know you’ve got to just move on to the next play.”
Vaughn said the competition Har-Ber faced in 7-on-7 over the summer has aided him and Mayfield because in passing leagues, quarterbacks and receivers are able to spend extra reps developing timing when running routes, as running plays aren’t allowed.
With a position battle that has been on-going since Ryan Luther threw his last pass for Har-Ber during the 2010 Class 7A semifinals, the competition has remained healthy throughout.
“Austin and I know that football is very important to us, but there are more important things,” Vaughn said. “We don’t need to ruin our friendship over this.”
For Har-Ber coach Chris Wood, there are two things he wants to see come 7:30 a.m. Monday.
“The biggest thing I want to see is them continuing to work on improving their skills because it makes the team better,” Wood said. “And also, I want to see them take on a leadership role.
“If they can take on a positive leadership role during drills, on the field and in the weight room, I think that will really filter over because both of them have done such a good job for us this summer.”
Springdale Har-Ber Wildcat Football
Watch Out For: Wide receiver Evan Johnson is extremely versatile and plays the quarterback position when Har-Ber is in the Wildcat formation.
Biggest Strength: Jon Vaughn has the size of a prototypical quarterback at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds and the arm to go with it.
Biggest Question: Neither Vaughn or Austin Mayfield have much experience at the varsity level.