But as he, his teammates and the coaches study the film, it's evident that the group is progressing and on the right track to correct the mistakes that led to state runner-up finish.
"We've become more of a team since the beginning of the season," said Payne. "We had a good win at Bishop Gorman (on national TV to start the year) and now we understand our roles more on defense and offense."
The 5-10, 205-pound Payne leads the team with 22 tackles (15 solos), averaging 5.5 tackles per game in what has amounted to limited duty at middle linebacker, but is the tone setter for the defense. Head coach Norris Vaughan said Payne, not four-star wide receiver Jalen Brown, would be the one senior he would want to keep because of the toughness he brings.
In Payne's eyes, he is simply setting the tone for the defense.
"I think defensively we're really strong at every position," said Payne. "If one guy is ready to fight then we are all ready to fight. To be a good defense you have to be physical. I like to let my play do the talking because we have a lot of leaders on this team."
Not only is Payne making strides on defense, he is the team's leading ball carrier, rushing for 249 yards on 30 carries and five touchdowns, tied for the team-high with junior Paul Lucas, who picked up his first offer from Oregon State not long ago.
"I've progressed at running back a lot this year," said Payne. "I've been in the backfield a lot this year."
Being recruited on both sides of the ball, Payne is still searching for that first offer as he tries to improve his grades. Northern Arizona has been talking to him the most and Arizona has been monitoring his progress since he attended the school's junior day over the summer.
"Arizona has a nice campus and a nice facility, so it was good to go up there," said Payne. "All the coaches are pretty nice. They tell me to keep working hard. I am a big believer that if you keep working hard good things will come to you."
Mountain Pointe (4-0) travel to Chandler (2-1) before hosting Hamilton in two weeks; a rematch of last year's state championship game won by Hamilton, 31-16.