The undefeated Staley Falcons have hit their stride at the right time.
Heading into this Friday’s playoff game against Liberty, they have outscored their opponents 214-7 over their last four games.
The main contributor to their success this season is quarterback John Raybourn, who has passed for 34 touchdowns with just one interception.
In an offense that requires its quarterback to make the correct read on every play, Raybourn has very rarely made a mistake.
“He’s done a remarkable job of making the correct decision,” said Staley coach Phil Lite. “He’s gotten us out of some bad plays.”
Raybourn also has the capability of breaking down defenses with his legs, something Lite sees as a crucial weapon for his offense.
“He’s like a point guard: he can run it and he can dish it,” Lite said “We just have to pick and choose how much we want him to run the ball.”
Raybourn’s success this season is a testament to how much work he puts into the game. In addition to his stellar play on the field, Raybourn is also a natural team captain.
He leads by example, Lite said, and spends a lot of time helping the underclassman of Staley’s team in addition to perfecting his own game.
“This class is full of leaders, and John is the top one,” Lite said. “He absolutely demands respect and he gets that from our kids in the huddle.”
Raybourn’s respect is well deserved, as he has taken over a larger role on the Staley offense this season and excelled in it.
The dynamic of the teams’ offense has changed dramatically since last season, with the loss of Simone Award-winning running back Julian Ross.
This season, the Falcons have relied more heavily on the passing game ... and Raybourn has stepped up to carry more of the offensive load.
“He’s really become a student of the game,” Lite said. “He spends a tremendous amount of time watching film. He has a really good grasp of what to expect. That’s really why he’s been successful this year.”
The talented senior also enjoys success on the baseball field and plans to go to a university that will allow him to play both sports.
“He’s the best quarterback to ever come through our program, hands down,” Lite said.
During Lite’s first year as Staley head coach in 2016, the Falcons marched all the way to the state semifinals before losing a heartbreaker to Vianney, 34-31.
“Our whole objective this year is getting back and finishing unfinished business,” Lite said.
And the Staley offense is packed with the tools to get that done, starting with Raybourn but including wide receivers Rod Criss II, Mark Robinson and JD Benbow, and tight end Zach Elam, whom Lite believes is the best in the state at his position.