Changing positions, playing two sports, and keeping a 3.5 grade point average is a hard task to pull off, but Bradwell Institute Tigers senior Jarvis Payton fits the description to perfection. Payton has played football and soccer for Bradwell for the past four years.
“Jarvis is a great young man,” says Bradwell Institute boys’ soccer coach Tommy Oglesby. “He works hard on and off the field. I wouldn’t necessarily he is a soccer player in the true sense of the word, but he is an athlete. He is ready to play anytime I need him, and I can put him in on defense and he will play hard and physical, regardless of what type of team or player he is playing against. He does not play scared at all.”
“I play both soccer and football,” Payton says. “I wouldn’t say I’m a student of the game, but I do my best to learn all that I can about it so I can perform to the best of my abilities. Knowing and understanding concepts from the classroom helps you to a certain extent. It’s not all about ‘smart’ when you’re on the field; it’s about taking chances and sometimes making choices that wouldn’t be too smart, but those are the ones that lead to big plays.”
Last year, Payton was the selected as the Bradwell Institute In the Game Magazine Offensive MVP for his play on the line for the Tigers. Payton received the award sponsored by Hinesville Ford at the 5th Annual In the Game Football Awards Banquet in Waycross last year.
Playing two sports at the varsity level and a load of AP and Honors classes kept Payton busy, and he has had to learn to adjust to several coaches. During Jarvis’ time with the Bradwell football team, he has been under four different coaches and had several position changes.
“Having many different coaches in my four seasons at Bradwell was a little overwhelming at first,” he says. “I didn’t know who to trust, because at the end of the day I just thought they were going to give up on us. Because we couldn’t trust our coaches, we trusted the man next to us on the field and our friends to encourage us and not give up just because a coach might have.”
Naturally, Payton always preferred the defensive side of the ball, but because he has some height and is physical, a lot of coaches used him on the offensive line. It was not until this season that Payton began to spend the majority of his time on defense.
“Jarvis always has worked hard,” says Bradwell assistant football coach Scott Akin. “Coaching him for three years, including him being on the offensive line, which is the position I coach, I knew how physical and how much of a good fit on the defensive side of the ball he would be. However, he always told me though if we needed him on the offensive line he would be willing to play both ways.”
While he enjoyed the line, Jarvis has always loved the defensive aspect of hitting people and making contact.
“Honestly I like defense the best,” he says. “Ever since I was young, playing rec football, all I ever wanted to do was hit the man with the ball. I didn’t have the size to be a lineman, but I had the speed and the technique to pick up blocks and help push the ball down the field.”
The game of football is cruel, mean, tough, unforgiving, and hands pain out like candy. But through all of the harshness of the game, it also teaches players how to get past the tough moments. When rain is pelting you in the face and you have to snap the ball or block a man as long as that monsoon doesn’t have lightning, you have to play your best.
Football is the ultimate metaphor for life, and the last two seasons, while not exactly pleasant, will lead to Payton and many of his teammates being successful, since they have learned that you have to work and keep working hard. Hard work doesn’t ensure winning, but it certainly is a great predictor of competitiveness. Jarvis and his Bradwell Institute teammates have had to learn to battle adversity; the Tigers have been 0-20 over the last two seasons.
“Well I kept coming to practice thinking I could help turn this program around,” he says. “I also came because I’m not a quitter; just because times get hard doesn’t mean you can give up on your team. Football has taught me a lot. It taught me that no matter how hard something gets, you should never quit.”
Payton’s tenacity and work ethic has not been lost on his football coach of the last two seasons, former Georgia Southern quarterback Greg Hill.
“Jarvis is a great kid that never complained about anything and did everything asked of him and more,” Coach Hill says. “He was able to maintain a 3.5 GPA while playing both football and soccer.”
Even through different coaches and schemes, one period of Payton’s career stands out to him. Adam Carter, who had been the defensive coordinator at Camden County, was one of the youngest head coaches in the state of Georgia during his one season at Bradwell Institute in 2012.
“My favorite memory of my football career was me going to defensive camp in 10th grade,” he says. “Although I didn’t get as many reps as the upperclassmen, it was a great time to just spend with my brothers, and those four days helped us become closer and better as a team.”
With a little over a semester left in his senior year, Payton enjoys math and the teachers that have helped him are Mr. Curry, Mr. Zeke, Mr. Bell, and Mr. Thornton. Using his math background, Jarvis wants to pursue a career as an engineer.
“My parents, Jarvis and Aria Payton, have done some much for me, and I am so thankful for them,” he says. “I want to thank Coach Hill, Coach Sills, and Coach Olgesby for believing in me to do my best, on both the pitch and the football field. I also want to thank Deion Stewart for encouraging me to go out for football in the first place and keeping me on track to never give up.”
Payton finds balance on field and classroom
By John Wood