As a football program, the Columbia Raiders take great pride in playing as a unit, with 11 players on the field working together toward a common goal.
Last Saturday, in the Raiders’ 39-34 first-round playoff victory over Archbold, there were times when it looked as if Columbia was a bit out of sorts … in a good way. At certain points in the game it appeared as if junior quarterback Jay Banyasz was the only player on the field.
Banyasz had the kind of game he will tell his grandchildren about. He carried the ball 34 times for 271 yards and four touchdowns and was 11-of-15 passing for 168 yards and two TDs.
Time and time again, Banyasz took control of the game … breaking runs of 11 yards or more eight times. His final run went for 48 yards around the left end of the Columbia offensive line and set up the Raiders’ final touchdown.
How epic was Banyasz’ effort? This week he beat out Trevor Bearden (Live Oak H.S., Calif.), Quade Coward (Oregon State recruit from Cleburne H.S. in the Dallas area) and Deione Williams (Texas running back who rushed for 547 yards last weekend) to be named ESPN Recruiting Nation’s BeastMode national player of the week.
“Jay has been absolutely unbelievable,” Columbia coach Jason Ward said. “Look at our last four games, where we’ve averaged over 40 points a game. … He has been a huge reason for it. Against Archbold, our offensive line played really well and our downfield blocking was big, and he took advantage of it.”
Banyasz made it quite clear the national recognition, while nice, was not only his.
“That had as much to do with the offensive line and receivers as it did with me,” he said. “Without what Tyler Edmisten, Michael Boey, Jesse Lambert and Austin Walaszewski were doing on the edge and downfield I wouldn’t have been able to do anything.”
He also pointed out exactly where his priorities lie.
“I guess the national recognition is nice, but if we wouldn’t have won the game it wouldn’t have meant anything,” Baynasz said. “I don’t care if I get any rushing yards or score any points … as long as we win, that’s all I’m worried about. Sure, you like to see your name out there but winning games is all I’m really worried about right now.”
It did not matter where Banyasz went with the ball against Archbold, he found clear sailing.
“You look at his runs and it didn’t make much of a difference,” Ward said. “He ran well outside and really did a great job of following his blocks between the tackles.”
In a tight game against the Blue Streaks, Banyasz also accomplished what all coaches hope from their quarterbacks — he no turnovers.
“He passed the ball efficiently, throwing only four incompletions, and took care of the ball,” Ward said. “He didn’t throw dangerous passes and didn’t put the ball on the ground. … That’s one of the big things a coach wants to see out of his quarterback.”
As the game went on, Banyasz got stronger. A whopping 201 of his 271 rushing yards came in the second half.
“Coach kept calling my number, and the more I touched the ball the more I got a feel for the game,” Banyasz said. “I got really comfortable and the game just came to me.”
- WHO: Columbia (10-1) vs. Patrick Henry (9-2)
- WHAT: Division V regional semifinal
- TIME: 7 p.m.
- WHERE: Fremont Ross High School’s Harmon Field at Don Paul Stadium
- RADIO: WEOL 930-AM, WOBL 1320-AM
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or email@example.com.