2015 Shelby County Player of the Year
Published 11:56 am Tuesday, December 8, 2015
By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor
COLUMBIANA – There’s a lot that goes into picking a Player of the Year for any sport. Essentially, the decision revolves primarily around the criteria used to create the award. Some believe awards like these should go to the best player on the best team, and should essentially be used to represent the accomplishments of the team in the award’s presentation. Some believe it should go to the player who was the most irreplaceable, a player who, if replaced with someone of average ability, would affect their team the most through their absence.
However, by any criteria, Jamarius Mayfield had a stellar season. Mayfield ran the football 155 times in 2015 for 1,714 yards, setting the single-season rushing record at Shelby County High School in the process. Technically he did it in 10 games, but against Beauregard on Oct. 2 he was sidelined in the first half after only seven carries with concussion-like symptoms and did not return, but was later cleared and did not miss any additional time. His 11 yards per carry were tops in the county amongst AHSAA and AISA players, as were his 22 rushing touchdowns and his 1,714 rushing yards. Statistically he had the best season in the county for any runner and it wasn’t that close, and he is the Player of the Year in Shelby County.
The 5-foot-9-inch running back has been playing football since he was 5. He has been playing varsity football at Shelby County since he was a ninth-grader and has garnered interest from schools such Samford in his senior year. He doesn’t know what his 40-yard dash time is and hasn’t been clocked in more than a year. He was a high 4.5 guy on grass last spring, Shelby County head coach Heath Childers affirmed, but plays much faster than his 40 time.
Coming into this season, Mayfield and the Shelby County coaching staff knew what he was capable of, but due to a checkered injury history, no one was quite sure what to expect from the talented back in his senior season.
“It was a little bit of a shock,” Childers said when talking about the year his running back had. “Not that he was able to perform at a high level, we knew he was capable of performing at that level. I felt like he underachieved as a junior, but he was also battling a lot of injuries. So we really didn’t get to see what he was really capable of.”
Mayfield has battled minor injuries his entire high school career. He was coming back from a broken arm as a ninth-grader when he first stepped into the varsity ranks, and has battled high-ankle sprains and MCL strains on and off in high school as well. In this, his senior year, he was just fed up with catching shade about where he played ball.
“As a senior I was just tired of walking around town, being in the barber shop and hearing a lot of crap like, ‘You play for Shelby County you guys aren’t going to do anything,’” Mayfield said. “So I wanted to have a big year. The numbers came along with that.”
This year, Shelby County threw the ball 53 times. Total. The Wildcats’ run-dominant Wing-T style averaged just over five pass attempts per game, and had five games with two or fewer pass attempts. There was never any doubt about this team’s identity on offense, and Mayfield was the catalyst that led the Wildcats to their most successful offensive season since 2009. While Mayfield’s stats and production speak for themselves, he did more for Shelby County than just run the football.
“The most impressive thing about his season was really not what he was doing when he did have the football, it was what he was doing when he didn’t have the football,” Childers said. “He was a great blocker. The running backs in the Wing-T offense, they have to block, its just part of the system. His ability to block allowed the offense to open up just as much as his ability to run.”
Mayfield, who Childers said is the best blocking back he has ever coached, did not take well to blocking before this season, but committed himself to the task this year, because he knew that was what it took to win games.
“Last year I hated it,” Mayfield said. “This year though, I just wanted to win. I remembered he used to get on us for not blocking, so I just said to myself, ‘Why not start blocking harder?’”
“He’s a great example of a team player,” Childers added.
Talent, heart, production and a team-first mentality. Jamarius Mayfield is the 2015 football Player of the Year.