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New offense excites Cardinal Hayes

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Kwamayne Davis spent the past two seasons learning and growing comfortable in the flex bone offense at Cardinal Hayes. Now, in is his third season as the starter, the senior quarterback can chuck that playbook aside.

Coach C. J. O’Neil scrapped the run-based attack used at the school for close to a decade in favor of the spread to better suit his personnel.

“Once in a while you have to do something new just to reinvent yourself,” O’Neil said.

His players can see why.

“I’m still not used to it,” Davis said. “I still have flaws here and there, but I’ll get it before the season starts.”

He and others are excited about the potential results they could produce in the more open and passing-oriented formation. Their philosophy is going to be to take advantage of the speed and athleticism of senior running back/corner back Jeremiah Kobena and wide receiver Bryant McAdoo.

“We are trying to get the defense tired, to score back to back to back and keep [opponents’] defenses on the field,” said Davis, who last season threw for three touchdowns to help break his team’s 28-year losing streak to Mount St. Michael on Thanksgiving.

No one in the city may be quicker, and get defenses more winded, than the 6-foot, 185-pound Kobena, who has verbally committed to Syracuse. The senior placed fifth in the 100-meter dash at the New York State outdoor track & field championships, and his personal best time in the event is 10.79 seconds. He is elusive along with his breakaway speed.

“I am very surprised when somebody catches me,” Kobena said. “Either I am not running fast enough or that person busted it to come get me.”

He, along with McAdoo, who is 6-foot-5 and has great hands, will give Davis, who has a strong accurate arm, plenty to work with behind an inexperienced offensive line, outside of senior center Joe Shields. Hayes will need to replace linemen Fernando Diaz and Erle Ladson, who are at Pittsburgh and Delaware, respectively.

The line on the other side of the ball should be one of the squad’s biggest strengths because of its size and experience. Returning are senior defensive ends Terry Cox and Gallo Henson, who also plays wide receiver and returns kicks. Carlif Taylor, who is 6-foot-2 and 315 pounds, should be a handful up front.

“Opposing quarterbacks are going to have a hard time,” Davis said.

The returning talent, new offense, and balance on both sides of the ball have Hayes, which lost to Cardinal Spellman in the CHSFL A final last season, setting some lofty goals. The players want to win a Class AA title and beat Mount again on Thanksgiving -- and won’t settle for less.

“We always talk about how good our offense can be, but talking is so little,” Kobena said. “You want to perform it and go out there on the field and show what we can really do.”

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