HYRUM — Every time Jayden Maughan lines up on the football field, he looks like David.
As in, David and Goliath.
The only person who doesn't see it as a hopeless mismatch is Maughan.
"He literally in his mind thinks he's bigger and better than anybody he goes up against," said Mountain Crest head coach Mark Wootton of the senior, who at 6-foot and 185 pounds may be one of the slimmest offensive linemen in 4A. "It's what he's always played. He's got really good technique. He's not going to ever really beat anybody up, but he just fights real hard. You're going to get 100 percent effort out of him on every play."
Built more like a receiver, Maughan has played offensive line since he showed up for high school tryouts.
"I don't know why," he said of how he moved from running back and linebacker to lineman. "One game they just said, 'Get in there and do it.' And so I did."
He guesses he weighed about 130 pounds when he earned a spot on the offensive line for the Mustangs. He's gained weight and grown a few inches, but while he's not a small person to the rest of his world, he's so small on the football field, he gets teased by defensive players on other teams.
"Oh yeah, all the time, (they) call me little and stuff," he said with a smile and a shrug. "But I always block and do good. It makes me feel a lot better. I drive, get them off the ball and makes me feel a lot better. I never even think about being the smallest one. I just think about getting my job done."
His job is to protect his quarterback and create holes for his running back. He lines up as the right guard and also plays nose guard on the defensive line. He prefers offensive line, but as long as he's on the field, he really doesn't care what coaches ask him to do. "I just love football," he said. "I love to hit. I just love doing it. I'd love to play in college; that's my dream. I'm little, but I could do it. I've thought about switching positions, but I'm good at what I do."
So good in fact, that when the team needs yardage, the Mustangs look to Maughan to clear a path.
"He can have a 300-pound guy in front of him and we're trying to get a yard, and he'll say, 'Run behind me; I'll get it'," said Wootton. "He really thinks he can make plays, and he delivers. I trust him 100 percent. His will to win is so strong." His will to compete is so intense that when Maughan broke his hand last Wednesday, he hesitated telling his coaches that he was hurt. As soon as Wootton heard, he knew what Maughan's concern would be.
"I knew his biggest concern would be, 'If I miss practice, do I start?' He wouldn't tell you if he was hurt," said Wootton.
And sure enough, after Maughan had his broken hand treated at a hospital, he called his coach.
"I'm still starting right?" Wootton said he asked. "He won't miss a game or a rep."
He's so ferocious on the line of scrimmage that his teammates have stopped seeing him as small.
"I trust him," said running back Eddy Hall. "He's a fighter. He's from good old Wellsville. One of those rednecks who is tough. Even if he's got some big, ol' kid in front of him, Jayden is a fighter. You can put anyone in front of him and he'll fight them to the end."
Maughan is so used to being undersized as an offensive lineman that he doesn't really notice how much bigger the competition is. There are some exceptions — like last week's semifinal win over Highland when he faced 6-foot-4 Bryan Mone, who weighed 310 pounds.
"He was a big boy," said Maughan. "He was probably the hardest one; he was big and physical. They're all good, but he was big and he was fast. When you see those big ol' boys line up, it's like coach (Dave) Kuresa says, 'You better make sure you think you're better.' They might call me little, but I get it done."
Maughan isn't the only undersized player representing the Mustangs on the football field. Troy Netzley, a senior linebacker who is about 5-foot-8 and weighs about 160 pounds (with pads on), is another.
"He's earned the right to play that position," Wootton said of Netzley. "He's put in a lot of time to where he's fast and strong. He's very undersized for the position he plays, but the way he scores TDs is crazy."
Netzley has scored four touchdowns as a defensive player this season, which is his only season as a starter. "He's got four when just one in a year for a defensive player would be good," said Wootton. "It seems like he's always in the right place at the right time."3 comments on this story
Netzley smiles when asked if he thinks he could start for the team the Mustangs will face in the 4A state championship game Friday — Timpview.
"Maybe," he said. "I don’t know what they base their starters on. But most teams are bigger than us. It's how we play. We use our speed and our team. We're small, fast and we have good team unity."
Hall said guys like Maughan and Netzley are a metaphor for what the Mustangs achieve as a team. "We're all small, but we don’t' care," said Hall. "We'll go against anybody. They're big, but not even the biggest we've faced."