Football Defensive Player of the Year: Sherando’s Payne Bauer – The Winchester Star

Posted: December 27, 2019 at 1:45 pm

Prior to Payne Bauer's arrival, Sherando High School football coach Bill Hall didn't keep track of tackles for losses.

But his middle linebacker's penchant for bringing down ball carriers in the backfield at an astonishing rate changed all of that.

And this season, Bauer kept the calculators whirring at a rate even higher than before. Bauer racked up 41 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, including 12 sacks, for the Warriors, who rebounded from injuries to advance to the Region 4C playoffs.

Bauer's phenomenal play earned him several postseason accolades including his second consecutive Winchester Star Defensive Player of the Year honor.

The Payne Train racked up 93 tackles on the season with nearly half of them coming behind the opposition's line of scrimmage.

If you have somebody in the teens that raises an eyebrow at a regional or state meeting, Hall said. You don't ever hear of someone having 20 and he has 41 and he had 36 last year. Things like that are crazy.

But to hear it from Bauer, you'd be crazy to think it was all him. The humble 6-foot-2, 232-pounder gives all of the credit to the guys who play five yards in front of him, often seeming like opposing running backs fell into his lap.

It's mostly the guys in front of you, said Bauer when asked about how he racks up so many tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Everyone always talks about linebackers at Sherando, but usually it's the D-linemen. They don't get any love, but they deserve it more than anyone.

People like Caleb McLee, Skyler Taylor-Goode, he was a monster, and Brett Shockey they absorbed two blockers, he added. When two guys are blocking one dude, that always leaves linebackers free. The defensive linemen to me are the most selfless people on the football team because they eat everything for the linebackers and that's why the linebackers make plays.

While those linemen are excellent football players, Hall says the speedy and powerful Bauer often doesn't give himself enough credit in the equation to success.

He's so modest, Hall said. He just busts things off like it's not a big deal. He's been brought up the right way. He really appreciates people serving each other. He's a service type of kid. It doesn't go unnoticed on him that people are doing stuff that he can be successful. Some kids never get that, but he understands the team component of a ballgame and how it works together.

That being said, and those guys do a great job in front of him, you don't have 41 tackles for a loss without being really, really, really, really good. You just can't plug-and-play and put somebody in there and have 41 tackles for a loss. That doesn't happen.

Bauer has several schools, including Division I programs, who have offered him scholarships. He's weighing his options until February's signing date, but is sure of one thing.

My biggest thing is I want to play at a football school, Bauer said. There are some schools that are basketball schools, but I want to play where everyone loves football.

So what makes Bauer so good?

It's not just one thing, but a combination that leads to his success.

While he'd like to be stronger, Bauer is a bear. Often one arm is enough to bring down a ballcarrier. And when he hits somebody they rarely fall forward.

The thing about Payne is that he doesn't give himself credit for the type of athlete he is and the strength he possesses, Hall said. He is just naturally physical strong. He does wear his passion on his sleeve, but he applies his passion into his development to be really great. His work in the weight room is really off the charts. He doesn't take days off in the weight room.

Every lift we do in the weight room is football oriented, Bauer said. I guess I have grip strength and I took down guys with my hand. That played a big part because I wouldn't have been able to do that last year and the year before.

Bauer is willing to work at his craft.

He spends many hours watching film and working with linebackers coach John Minteer on reading offenses. And when he makes a read, he attacks.

This season, the Warriors needed Bauer to exert a little more pressure on the quarterback and he responded with his career-high sack total and forced many hurries.

I watch a lot of film, Bauer said. I like to apply myself in that. This year, I kind of became an end rusher guy. I tried watching videos of guys coming off the edge like T.J. Watt, Von Miller, J.J. Watt. Khalil Mack is my favorite. I try to watch guys like that and do what they do.

Bauer is coachable. Minteer and defensive coordinator Jake Smith challenged Bauer throughout his career and he continued to a improve.

He likes feedback, Hall said. I think that's a common characteristic of great players is that they want feedback. You can coach him hard.

And Bauer is not one to enjoy his own press clippings and accolades. While he may have several eye-popping plays during a game, Bauer knows that is not a true measure of what he accomplished.

He points to the season-opener against James Wood as a perfect example. In that contest, he registered three sacks and had a 78-yard touchdown run.

Film doesn't lie, Bauer said. I thought I played really well against James Wood because I had two or three sacks and I had a nice long touchdown run, but I looked at the film and I played terrible. It was probably one of the worst games because I played like so lazy. It was not a good game.

He's his harshest critic, Hall said. In games, he'll be like, 'Coach I'm not playing very well.' Sometimes that could be accurate to his level, but it would be really good for other people.

And while Bauer had many great moments, it's the plays that he didn't make that haunt him.

I don't think I played as well as I should have, he said of his entire season. I can remember plays where I missed. Those plays are, 'How did they get me?' I try to see what I could have done better watching film on Saturday or Monday. I try to find what I could have done better to make the play.

And Bauer carries that desire to succeed over to the practice field. He doesn't believe in doing things halfway or at half the speed. He's a gamer on Friday because of Monday-Thursday.

Payne understood that the way he practiced transferred over to the way he played in a game, Hall said. He had to play at a speed and attack level for a certain amount of time so that would transfer over so he could sustain that type of speed for that long of a time on a Friday night.

He is wide open in practice. You would have to pull him off in practice from a physicality standpoint. He was always full speed. I don't want to discredit the work he does in practice because he's one of the better practice players we've ever had. He embraced how what he does in practice transfers to what he is in the ballgame. Kids don't always make the correlation.

Bauer puts the whole package on the field and it's his intangibles that make him special.

He is really gifted at being able to make adjustments in the game, Hall said. When you watch him play football, an educated person watches him and says, 'That cat knows what he's doing.' Based of the blocking scheme that happens, he fits right. That's because of film study, being coachable, him understanding how he fits based off a blocking scheme and how we fit as a defense.

The longer you're in the business the more you appreciate it, Hall added. You realize they don't come along all of the time. We've been fortunate to have those guys. But again all of those guys, whoever you want to talk about Brian Barlow, George Aston, Dylan Rivers are cut from the same cloth that they all were with their preparation phase toward the game of football. They poured themselves into it. Then you add that with genetics, then it's a recipe for being the player that [Payne] is.

Bauer has come a long way from choosing not to play football his freshman season at Sherando. Bauer envisioned himself as a baseball player and he is a very good one having led the Warriors with a .439 average last season.

But, Hall knew he would make a good football player and tasked quarterback and baseball standout Hunter Entsminger to bring Bauer to practice. All Bauer has done since then is lead the Warriors for three consecutive seasons in tackles, racking up 309 with 99 of those being for losses.

Bauer has garnered a pair of Class 4 Northwestern District and Region 4C Defensive Player of the Year honors and has been named the the VHSL's first team defense the past two seasons.

While Hall had no doubt that Bauer had the potential to be a stellar player, others didn't and that motivated Bauer.

I think I just wanted to prove everyone wrong, he said. I can just remember people saying, 'You're not going to be good. You're not going to be on varsity or whatever. They're just going to put you on JV.' My first day, Coach Hall put me on varsity. I just wanted to prove everyone wrong that doubted me.

Bauer and Entsminger became fast friends. Bauer said he and Entsminger, now on a baseball scholarship at James Madision University, talk each day.

This season Entsminger was often on the field with Bauer symbolically. Entsminger's No. 8 was part of Bauer's attire.

Everyone knows that Hunter is my best friend, Bauer said. When they started handing out towels our first game, they were like, 'Hey, here and tossed it to me.' I guess I can blame some of my success to Hunter because I wore a little piece of him.

And like Entsminger was a big brother to him, Bauer returned the favor this season to sophomore quarterback Dylan Rodeffer. Bauer did many things together with Rodeffer, who was pressed into service because of an injury to starter Chacai Campbell.

Hall wasn't surprised. He's seen how much teammates mean to Bauer. It's the little things like eating pizza together at CiCi's on Wednesday nights that mean so much.

He wouldn't have missed that for anything, Hall said. If it had been three hours away, he would have driven three hours to get there because it was that important to him.

Bauer hardly can believe his football career is done at Sherando.

I'm going to miss it a lot, he said. It kind of makes me sad that it's over. I've got this family here and I'm going to be able to talk to the guys still. It's not even the sport I will miss the most. It's the brotherhood and the bonding we have.

When asked about how much he would miss Bauer, Hall became emotional.

All of those guys, you spend so much time with them, said a teary Hall. The other thing is that people don't know their story. You tell a story, but they don't know the rest of the story. I think the parts that I know that other people don't know if you only knew how this kid has risen to where he's at, your level of appreciation would go off the charts. He'll be an unbelievable success story when the story comes out. Down the road you will be like, 'Are you serious?' Now you know the rest of the story.

You are always going to miss the football player. Other players come, but again they are not going to be Payne. That's the nature of the business.

Read more here:
Football Defensive Player of the Year: Sherando's Payne Bauer - The Winchester Star

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