MUNFORD — A football team can never truly replace a quarterback who has graduated, but for Munford High, a familiar face around the school has stepped forward to win the job.
Senior Brett Haynie — who wasn’t part of the team a year ago — is tasked with the responsibility of following Georgia Southern signee Monteo Garrett at quarterback. Garrett, a running and passing threat, led Munford to a 12-2 record and a spot in the Class 4A state semifinals.
“I haven’t played football in two years, so this is my first year back,” Haynie said. “This summer has been a lot of hard work and learning for not just me, but all my teammates around me.”
Haynie, who has been starting on the Lions’ varsity baseball team since his freshman year, said that despite his years away from the gridiron, baseball has taught him a lot of key attributes to help him become a better quarterback.
“When we do fielding drills, we slide from left-to-right a lot, so that helps with footwork,” he said. "It also helps with quick hands, but all in all, all the athletic ability that goes in to baseball will help in football.”
After becoming the starting quarterback, Hayne impressed his coaches during Munford’s spring game by throwing for 199 yards, including touchdown passes of 60 and 48 yards to fellow senior C.J. Chapman. He also rushed for 48 yards. He isn’t the same dual-threat quarterback Garrett was last year, but he’s the typical tall, strong-armed quarterback who can make the throws.
“(Haynie) can’t run like Monteo,” joked Chapman, the third-year starting wide receiver. “Other than running, he isn’t much different. His arm will be a factor, especially with his throwing accuracy and being on target.”
Wagnon has seen Haynie continuing to work hard to improve every day, since initially surprising him with his improvement every day since the spring.
“He played better in the spring game than I anticipated, so I was excited about it,” Wagnon said. “This summer has been a progression for him. We’ve done a few seven-on-seven and passing camps, and he continues to get better every day.
“He’s not where he wants to be, but we are excited about where he’s going.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Munford will rely on its junior middle linebacker Austin Stephens to lead a strong linebacking core. Seniors Cameron Turner, Devin Strickland, Casey Goins will guide an experience secondary, and will be joined by sophomore Laraie Ball and junior Austin Campbell, who looks to replace Chattanooga signee Tavon Lawson.
In addition to the move at quarterback, Munford also makes a dramatic move to the Southern half of the state alignment. This happened because of the AHSAA realignment, which happens every two years.
The move will put the Lions in 4A, Region 3, which includes last year’s 3A state runner-up (Leeds) and the 2011 3A state champions (Handley).
“I love the region we were in last year, because every game felt like a rivalry game. Every single game we played last year, we had some sort of connection with the opposing team,” said Will Wagnon. “We were in this region a couple of years ago, but we are still unfamiliar because we never see them, so that makes it tough.
“With the move, we’ll have to travel a lot, but those are circumstances, and we aren’t going to let circumstances control the outcome, we are going to let performance do that.”
Last year, Munford saw its season end to eventual 4A state champion Oneonta. This year, Wagnon is taking more of a game-by-game approach.
“We can’t worry about the end,” he said. “We have to worry about each individual game, and continue to get better, to execute, to be aggressive each week, and as long as we do those things, we’ll be as good as we can be, and that’s about all we can ask.”