Inside the Game: Brian Taylor

RALEIGH, N.C. --- Harnett Central rode an undefeated season to its first NCHSAA state championship game in school history. However, the Trojans fell a point short of the crown, suffering a 14-13 loss to Asheville Reynolds.

With less than a minute remaining in the game, Harnett Central elected to go for the two-point conversion, instead of tying the game with an extra point. Although the attempt failed, Harnett Central recovered the onside kick. As timed expired, though, the game-winning field attempt was blocked.


Harnett Central's offense attacks opposing defenses in a lot of different ways and junior Brian Taylor is in the middle of it all at quarterback. However, in true spread philosophy, the offense is designed not to rely solely on Taylor.

The offense's run-to-pass ratio is roughly 60:40. Its running attack includes several different options, including the zone read.

Under normal circumstances, the passing game concentrates heavily on short passes, especially quick screens to its wide receivers. It wasn't until late in the championship game – with the team playing from behind – that Taylor began going deeper down field.

Taylor exclusively takes the snap from out of the shotgun. Harnett Central's base offense is a four-wide receiver spread (one running back and no tight end).

In addition to quarterback, Taylor handles punting and field goal duties for Harnett Central.

Big Plays

Down by a touchdown with time running out, Harnett Central took over possession at its own 10-yard line. Needing to score desperately on the drive, Harnett Central didn't just lean more on the pass, but threw downfield more often.

When the drive finally entered Reynolds' territory with roughly a minute remaining in the game, Taylor rolled out to his left, set and threw as he was sandwiched between two defenders. The pass hit Brian Baker 20 yards downfield between a corner and safety playing zone.

"We'd been throwing that out [route] for three or four straight plays and we came back behind it," Taylor said. "It was an out [route] with a flag [route]. They came up on the out and I hit the flag behind him."

Baker blew past the two nearby defenders and entered the end zone to put the score at 14-13.


Passing: 18-of-29 for 194 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions
Rushing: 13 for 29 yards
Punting 4 punts for 164 yards (41.0 average) with a long of 54
Passing Breakdown: I, 11fd, 9fd, INT, 7, 8, I, 8, INT, 9, 4fd, 4, I, I, 22t, 6, 4, 14fd, 6, I, I, 10fd, 7, 6, 48t, I, 11fd, I, I,
Rushing Breakdown: -2, -3, 3, 1, -7s, 6, 4, 3, 3fd, 2, 4, 12fd, 3


Taylor is a prototypical pocket passer with excellent mobility. Because of his size (6-3 and 205 pounds) and tool set, he could excel in just about any offensive system.

Taylor throws a pretty ball with a tight spiral and a lot of velocity. He knows how to make all the throws. However, his accuracy can be inconsistent.

Taylor has solid throwing mechanics and impressive, quick feet.

As a runner, Taylor isn't overly elusive but he runs with power and forward lean. He will attempt to run over a defender.

Harnett Central playbook doesn't ask Taylor to make a lot of decisions as a passer. Also, it fails to highlight all of his abilities as a passer, by relying heavily on short and screen routes.

Other Standouts

Caleb Pressley had a hand in both of Reynolds' touchdowns – he ran in the game's first touchdown from one yard out and connected with Andrew Scott for a 13-yard touchdown. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound junior quarterback was named the game's Most Outstanding Player and the State Champions' Outstanding Offensive Player. He ended the game with 115 yards on 11-of-23 passing and 65 yards on 13 rushes.

Jarrod Spears was Harnett Central's workhorse ‘back. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound junior carried the ball 26 times for 101 yards. Along with Taylor, Spears handled all of Harnett Central's rushing responsibilities.

Patrick Blalock was all over the field for Reynolds. The 6-foot, 184-pound senior linebacker had a game-high 18 tackles. He made more solo tackles (12) than anyone else had total tackles in the game.

Brian Taylor Profile

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