Fayetteville junior quarterback Taylor Powell didn’t rest on his laurels after a solid sophomore season.
In 2014, Powell passed for 2,513 yards and 20 touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs to the Class 7A state championship game, where they lost to Bentonville 24-21.
As a junior, Powell raised the bar and led Fayetteville to its first state championship since 2012.
Powell completed 269 of 378 passes for 3,594 yards with 49 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, and he is this year’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette All-Arkansas Preps Offensive Player of the Year.
“He meant a great deal to our team,” Fayetteville Coach Daryl Patton said. “He’s a one-of-a-kind quarterback. He’s the best quarterback in the state this year. He’s one of the best we’ve had in the state in the past few years.”
Powell said before the Bulldogs’ 28-7 victory in the Class 7A state championship game against Springdale Har-Ber that his offseason preparation paid off.
“I gained respect from my teammates, and I had confidence in myself,” Powell said. “I got better at decision-making and checking the ball down, going through my reads.”
Despite Fayetteville finishing third in the 7A-West Conference after losing to Bentonville in the regular-season finale, Powell didn’t let the Bulldogs’ lower seed bother him. He threw seven touchdown passes in Fayetteville’s Class 7A first-round playoff game against West Memphis. From there, he led the Bulldogs to road victories at Bryant and Bentonville to reach the program’s second consecutive championship game.
“He doesn’t act like a junior quarterback,” Patton said. “He acted like a senior quarterback.”
Patton said Powell’s maturity after his sophomore season was a key to his improvement.
“He’s highly intelligent,” Patton said of Powell, who has a 4.0 grade-point average and ACT over 30. “He comes from a strong family background of work ethic. He wants to be the best in everything he does. It doesn’t matter if it’s football or grades or throwing trash balls in the trash can.
“He’s going to work at it. He’s going to find an edge.”
Patton — who has coached the Allen brothers, Brandon and Austin, who currently play at Arkansas — said Powell is further along than both as juniors. He said that Brandon Allen improved more from his junior year to his senior year than any quarterback he’s coached.
As far as Powell goes?
“He could be the best I’ve ever had,” Patton said. “He’s the best junior I’ve ever had.”
Patton said Powell is always asking him questions about the Allen brothers and past quarterbacks at Fayetteville in an attempt to make himself better.
“He’ll ask, ‘What did Austin do after the 2011 state championship to prepare for 2012?’ ” Patton said. ” ‘What did Brandon do?’ He’s always looking for the edge.”
Powell’s efficiency of completing 71.1 percent of his passes contributed to his success this season.
“For a 17-year-old kid to be dang near perfect on all those attempts, that’s a credit to him,” Patton said.
The improvement shown by Powell from his sophomore year to his junior year culminated with a state championship. Could it lead to a second consecutive state title in December 2016?
“He’s going to work so much harder now to improve than he did last year,” Patton said. “There’s no telling how good the kid can be.”
At a glance
SCHOOL Fayetteville CLASS Junior POSITION Quarterback HT/WT 6-2, 200 NOTEWORTHY Completed 269 of 378 passes for 3,594 yards with 49 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. … Led Fayetteville to Class 7A state championship. … Offered by Arkansas State and Wake Forest and has received interest from Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, TCU and Texas, among others.
How they were chosen
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette All-Arkansas Preps team was chosen with the help of college and high school coaches from around the state. Players were selected for their performance on the field last fall. Academic standing isn’t reflected in the selections.
Cal Ripken Jr, baseball’s “Iron Man”, will be the keynote speaker for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s All-Arkansas Preps awards banquet, sponsored by CHI St. Vincent. Ripken will speak at the event and take part in presenting the athletes’ awards. The banquet will be Saturday, June 18, in the Wally Allen Ballroom of the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. The event will honor more than 300 high school athletes from across the state who have excelled in one of 10 sports – this year wrestling has been added to the list. For details on the student-athletes, the event and general admission tickets, visit www.allarkansaspreps.com.
Print Headline: Powell doesn’t act like junior in second season