Shore Sports Network Offensive Player of the Year: Manalapan’s Naim Mayfield
Coming off a tremendous junior season, expectations were big for Manalapan running back Naim Mayfield entering his senior year. Braves head coach Ed Gurrieri said in the preseason that, with another standout year, Mayfield had a chance to go down as the best running back in Manalapan history. Gurrieri was right in his assessment, but as it turned out the impact of Mayfield’s senior season reached way beyond the record book of his own school.
The 2017 Shore Sports Network Offensive Player of the Year, Mayfield produced the greatest statistical season by a running back in Shore Conference history to go down as one of the Shore’s all-time greats. He ran for 2,681 yards and 46 touchdowns on an astounding average of 13.2 yards per carry and also returned two kicks for touchdowns to finish with the most single-season touchdowns (rushing and overall) in Shore Conference and state history. His 282 points set the New Jersey single-season scoring record, breaking the old mark of 272 set by Shawnee’s Chris LaPierre in 2007. The Shore Conference record for touchdowns was 40 set by Middletown South’s Knowshon Moreno.
Mayfield also finished 2017 with the second most single-season rushing yards in Shore Conference history and the third-best total in state history. With 135 yards against South Brunswick in the Central Jersey Group V championship game, Mayfield passed Long Branch’s Dahmiere Willis and his 2,589 yards rushing set in 2014 to become the single-season record holder, but that mark was surpassed an hour later when Freehold quarterback Ashante Worthy set the Shore and state record with 2,860 yards.
A gifted runner with exceptional balance, vision and speed, Mayfield began the season with 260 yards and five touchdowns on just 10 carries in a win over Marlboro. From there he continued to light up defenses to lead a Braves offense that averaged 42.7 points per game, the No. 2 mark in the Shore Conference. Mayfield ran for over 135 yards in all 12 of Manalapan’s games, went over 200 yards six times, bested 250 yards five times and had one 300-yard game.
In a win over Neptune Mayfield ran for a career-high 313 yards and five touchdowns on just nine carries, averaging an unreal 34.8 yards per carry. A week earlier he ran for 275 yards and five touchdowns in a pivotal Class A North game against district rival Howell. Mayfield also had a 274-yard, four-touchdown performance in a win over Central Jersey Group IV finalist Freehold and ran for 194 yards and two scores in a win over Piscataway. Manalapan fell to South Brunswick, 18-14, in the sectional final, but Mayfield ran for 135 yards and a touchdown and also returned a punt 61 yards for a score.
Mayfield had numerous runs over 50 yards this season, including a 94-yard touchdown run in the win over Freehold.
Verbally committed to Fordham University, Mayfield concluded his high school career with a school-record 4,628 yards rushing on an average of 10.9 yards per carry. He scored a school-record 79 total touchdowns and 474 points, including 73 rushing touchdowns.
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