Dominic Payne continues to play a key role for Trinity’s football team. (Bob Sutton/Randolph Record)
TRINITY – When Bear Bradley became Trinity’s football coach in the spring, he had lots of area to address.
At or near the top the list was meeting with Dominic Payne.
“He was one of the first student-athletes I wanted to talk to,” Bradley said. “I said to him, ‘Where do you see yourself best?’ ”
Payne had been the Bulldogs’ quarterback the past two seasons, earning All-Piedmont Athletic Conference honors as a sophomore.
Now he’s two games into his senior season and playing running back.
“I like quarterback,” Payne said. “I feel like I can do better with this team at running back.”
So that’s where Bradley said Payne’s skills might best suit Trinity, which evened its record at 1-1 by defeating visiting Albemarle 29-19 on Friday night.
The Bulldogs’ quarterback is transfer Noah Bradley, a junior transfer from Southern Guilford and the new coach’s son. Bear Bradley had been Southern Guilford’s head coach.
Payne is adjusting to his role and the Bulldogs are trying to make the pieces gel.
“We have higher expectations,” senior receiver Brandon Campbell said. “We need to lock in. Just have to work on the little things.”
So the passing system looks different, but Payne is still a big part of the offense.
“You naturally gravitate to him,” Coach Bradley said. “He’s just a great guy to be around.”
Bradley said Payne can also be used as a receiver along with his role on defense as an outside linebacker. Against Albemarle, he also took snaps, so he hasn’t abandoned that totally.
Payne said he considered himself more of a running quarterback, so in that aspect a position change isn’t all that drastic. He was the quarterback on the junior varsity as a freshman before taking the controls as a sophomore on the varsity.
He said he’s adjusting to a more aggressive approach in carrying the ball as a running back.
“I still try to juke,” he said of past tendencies.
Payne, who was the Player of the Year for boys’ basketball in the PAC during the past season, said from a recruiting aspect he’s more interested in the football right now even though basketball remains high on his list after a strong summer on the travel circuit. He has interests from several schools regarding football and an offer (for running back) from Davidson.
Noah Bradley is trying to mesh with his new team.
“They’ve been learning me,” Noah Bradley said. “You’re getting your timing down.”
That has been a challenge because Trinity’s receivers aren’t as speedy as those he was connecting with at Southern Guilford.
“I’m not used to their speed,” he said.
At Southern Guilford, his targets included a quartet that won the Class 3-A state track and field championships in the 800 relay and placed third in the 400 relay.
The core of Trinity receivers are Campbell and senior Jacob Hodges and juniors Leyland White and Came Nelson – and their big-play capabilities have been on display during the season’s opening weeks.
Campbell, though preferring the passing attack, said it will be good to have a mixture on offense.
“If we keep passing the ball, that’s what people are going to expect,” he said.
Noah Bradley was pressed into duty, able on a limited basis, as a freshman at Southern Guilford. His role increased last year, but he dealt with a shoulder injury.
In his first game with Trinity, the quarterback called it his best high school game despite the loss at Starmount.
Bear Bradley, former Wheatmore coach, said he feels right at home at a Randolph County school.
But what was uncomfortable was the rush to put together a team ready to take the field after the equivalent of about a couple of months to prepare.
“Every time you come to a new team, there’s that transition period,” Coach Bradley said. “It’s just a new feel.”