The Carroll Times

The Student News Site of Archbishop John Carroll High School

The Carroll Times

The Carroll Times

New quarterback spells a bright future for Pats football

The whistle blows. ¨One-Two-Three-Carroll! Four-Five-Six-Family!¨ is heard echoing across the field at Archbishop Carroll’s Joseph McNichol Stadium, a once hallowed ground that was home to countless feats in school and Philadelphia Catholic League history, as the Patriots football team closes another late summer practice. 

A new optimism fills the air around the campus, not for what had happened during practice but for what was still to come. As the crowd of players heads into the locker room before heading home, one player remains. The 14-year-old freshman had yet to step into his first high school class, but was expected to turn around the fortunes of Carroll football, once a top-flight PCL program — quarterback Jayden Boyd.

It has been a long time since the Patriots were on top of the Catholic League. Few remember the team back in 2002 under then-head coach Dan Bieili and star quarterback Pat Brochet, who together led Carroll to three consecutive PCL Blue Division championships. 

Since those glory days, success has been few and far between for the Patriots. A few bright years came in the late 2010s, with the same X-Factor once again – the play of Russell Minor-Shaw, who turned himself into one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the PCL and would eventually earn a bid to play at Division Three Kings College at the next level. After Minor-Shaw graduated, however, the Patriots rolled into what easily became the worst era of play in the school’s history. 

A combined 0-20 record between 2021 and 2022 led to a 2022-23 offseason with heaps of questions, the largest of all being an obvious hole at the quarterback position. 

Since the departure of Shaw, the Patriots relied on a committee of players such as Nick Lamey (2020), James Wright, and Mason Waller (2021-2022). None of them were able to take the hardships of Catholic League football, especially with a rag-tag corps of guys surrounding them. Heading into the 2023 season, only Wright (a senior) remained on the roster, with Lamey graduating back in 2021 and Waller transferring out after just one season. Therefore, it was clear, if the Patriots wanted things to change, it would start in the backfield. 

“In any offseason, you are looking to improve, obviously,” said Patriots head coach Kyle Detweiler. “With every incoming freshman class, you’re looking to identify places of need and plug them. One thing I took credit for out of the gate was saying, ‘Did we do enough to develop the guys we had?’ Nonetheless, we knew that we had been held back in those tough years, especially by an anemic offense. We knew we wanted to find the right guy at the quarterback position heading into the season and we were so excited when Jayden and his family decided to enroll here at Archbishop Carroll.”

Boyd, who had been mulling through his options in the offseason, got right to work after making his decision to head to Carroll. Not only did the quarterback jump right into a new school, staff, playbook, and environment, but also a competition with Wright — a competition to become the team’s starting quarterback by week one. 

“I was not the starter in camp, that was clear,” said Boyd. “I saw James, though. He was working hard and I was slacking, so that really knocked me into reality. As soon as the first scrimmage came, I was starting, and by the first game, I was scared, but after that first pass it was like, ‘Alright, I’m cool’ and then I got my first touchdown and I was all like, “I got this now.”

It never took too long for Boyd to come into his own. Even after a rough start in training camp, by the time the team’s first scrimmage came around against William Tennant, it was made clear that Boyd was the starter.

By the time the club was ready for their first regular season game, hopes were high and expectations were, too, going into an out-of-conference bout against Springfield Township. However, with the exception of a 30-yard connection between Boyd and junior receiver Luke Watson, the Pats were trounced by the Spartans, 24-6. 

Heading into Week 2, with the club’s first home game on the line and an 0-21 streak holding true, the Pats would take on the public league’s School of the Future. Boyd threw 5-9 for 39 yards and a touchdown as the Pats took down the Thunderbirds, 22-6, winning their first contest since 2020 and showing that the Patriots were different as a new era began. 

“With any freshman, you have tempered expectation,” said Detweiler. “Everything is new for them: the playbook, the plays, the players, the opponents. How we do everything was new to him. These things happen at different moments for different guys but I think we were playing Springfield and he was scrambling around and tossed that big touchdown up to Luke Watson before the end of the first half — I think that was the moment that he knew, ‘I can do this.’ What Jay needed to realize was that he couldn’t necessarily really be that hero ball one-man show thing, and he had to make plays and rely on his teammates. Once he started to gain confidence in the guys around him, that’s when he started to gain confidence inside of himself. Once he realized he really had such a great cast around him, he took it to the next level.”

 The winning ways continued into Week 3 as the Pats got above the .500 mark for the first time since 2019 with an 18-8 win over Simon-Gratz. By then it was pretty clear that the Pats had found their guy behind center. 

Over the course of the next few weeks, however, as the Pats got into the thick of the Catholic League schedule, the club began to struggle, taking losses to Monsignor Bonner, Archbishop Ryan and Lansdale Catholic. 

Despite the struggles, it was Boyd who began to come into his own and helped the Pats fight tooth and nail throughout the stretch while playing his best football of the season. 

Boyd began by combating the terrible field conditions along with a downpour at the Northeast Supersite against Ryan as he went 6-15 with 54 yards and a touchdown. The Pats dropped the game to the Raiders, however, 23-10.

Just a week later against Lansdale, Boyd tossed a season-high 181 yards and two touchdowns on 12-24 passing. Nonetheless, the Patriots fell just short against a strong Lansdale club, 21-14. 

“I think a lot of people don’t realize how skilled he is,” said Patriots offensive coordinator Rashad Mims. “I think people see his size and they think he’s small and he can’t really do it. He moves exceptionally well in the pocket. what I do think, though, is that what he learned was to keep his eyes downfield, and as you saw throughout the season he was able to make a ton of plays by escaping the pocket and throwing it downfield for a touchdown. The biggest thing for him was that he knew a lot of teams didn’t know how good he was.”

Boyd exemplified that during his team’s Week 7 29-24 Catholic League win over West Catholic as he went 8-18 with 102 yards and a touchdown to Watson. The win over West was the club’s first Catholic League win since 2020. The victory was the climax of the season for Boyd and company as they followed up the win with a 17-0 stinker to Cardinal O’Hara just a week later.

Following the loss to O’Hara, disaster struck. Nearly 50 percent of the team’s roster was declared academically ineligible to play in their Week 9 matchup against Neumann-Goretti, which was the defending PCL Blue Division champion at the time. 

Among that 50 percent was Boyd, who watched from the sidelines as his club fell to the Saints 28-0. 

“I feel like I really let my team down that week,” said Boyd. “It was weird not practicing or anything like that. All during that week I just focused on academics and getting my grades up to play the next week.”

Boyd was able to do just that. He was declared eligible on Monday and opted to play in the team’s JV game that same week. 

Heading down the stretch of the season, it just wasn’t the same for Boyd and the Patriots, who dropped their final game to Conwell-Egan, 29-0, at home. They’d end the season on a three-game losing streak and with a 0-74 scoring differential during that time. 

Despite the struggles, hopes remained high as the offseason began, and the ever-clouded future became just a bit brighter as workouts began at the forefront of spring, followed by the prospect of a seven-on-seven season this coming summer. 

“Heading into the future now,” said Boyd. “If we all just lock in 100 percent every time at practice and in workouts and in the offseason drills, then I see no reason why we can’t compete for the Catholic League this coming year. The talent is there; we just need to lock in.”

As a freshman, Boyd was tasked with being a leader of this club, and in 2024 things will be no different. As the Pats looks to climb the ladder in Catholic League contention, they will lean on him more and more as time goes on. Nobody knows that better than Mims, Carroll’s offensive coordinator who has worked with Boyd since Boyd was in grade school. Mims spoke on one thing he said everyone should know about one of the Catholic League’s youngest and most promising young talents.

“I love that kind, man,” said Mims. “Jay is one of my favorite guys that I have ever coached and been around. Our relationship is extremely strong. We talk all the time and he reaches out to me all the time and we talk about life and everything; it’s not just football. He is a great kid, I’m not just saying that to say it – I’d never put my name on anything that is not of such. For that, I want people to know that this kid is the real deal. He has all the intangibles and everything to be great. He just needs that person behind him to believe in him, and so for that, you know, I wanna see him continue to have success and grow confidence over the years to come and I believe that we will be happy with the outcome.”


Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carroll Times Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *