#CFCOPC PLAYERS TO WATCH: Team Central Grade 8 QB Payne sizing up competition

The countdown begins to CanadaFootballChat.com’s Ontario Prospect Challenge (OPC) on the April 29th weekend at Tim Horton’s Field in Hamilton. In the days leading up to the OPC, CFC will preview the teams and the players participating in the big event.

Just give Ethan Payne, a member of the Team Central Grade 8 squad, a clean snap and he’ll do whatever he can to make sure it turns into a positive play.

Payne said he has chosen to play in the Ontario Prospect Challenge for two main reasons. He was first drawn to the OPC by the promise of exposure as several scouts will be attending the event. Second, he is using the event to size himself up against the competition.

“Though I competed in a different Ontario game last year, I did not feel as though the competition was very strong thus [it was] not even challenging [to] me,” Payne said.

“I decided to try out for the Ontario [prospect] team because I know only the best of the best would make it onto this team,” he added.

Payne has only taken part in two tryouts and he said he has not yet had the opportunity to experience the OPC at its greatest capacity. However, he has enjoyed learning new play and how to properly read them from the practices.

“I felt like this just further expanded my understand of the game, thus making me a better football player,” Payne said.

The young football player stands at a current eight of 5’11 and is 198 pounds. He has only suited up for one team in his career, the York Simcoe Bucs (Ontario Minor Football League). He has had experience playing as a fullback, a tight end and a kicker. He has also played on both the offensive and defensive lines. However, his main position is quarterback.

“I believe the greatest thing about playing quarterback is not throwing touchdowns or the popularity that comes with it, [but] the leadership role that comes with it,” Payne said.

“As a quarterback, you are the leader of the offence and that aspect of the position really appeals to me. I love feeling like I am contributing to my team both physically and mentally and I love leading the team through tough games,” he added.

Payne’s reasons for why he likes his position may have influenced him when he picked Cam Newton, a quarterback for the Carolina Panthers and a recent Super Bowl participant, as his football inspiration.

“I like him because of his style of play and attitude on and off the field,” Payne said. “Though he can get aggravated at times, he is great at controlling his emotions and doing well in clutch situations.”

Ethan Payne (#86) talks to a coach on the sidelines. Courtesy of Ethan Payne.

Ethan Payne (#86) talks to a coach on the sidelines. Courtesy of Ethan Payne.

While other young players who are taking part in the OPC are a little star-struck at being given the opportunity to play at the CFL’s Tim Hortons’ Field, Payne isn’t all that much. “I think it’s just another field whether it’s behind a high school or in front of thousands of people,” he said.

“I’m just going to play my game no matter who’s watching. In my opinion, this helps me cope with whatever pressure that might arise. As long as my parents are there, I’ll be fine,” Payne added.

Set to graduate in 2020, Payne is currently reviewing high schools. He has narrowed down his choices to include the high schools Villanova College, St. Max Kolbe and St. Mike’s College. Beyond that, he would like to go to a NCAA division I school such as Oregon State University, Louisiana State or Auburn.

Payne said that going to a division I school would help him get closer to his dream of making the NFL. “I will do whatever it takes to make it there no matter how much training is required,” he added.

The OPC, then, will give Payne a chance to further hone his abilities. “My main goal is to ensure I do my best and give 100 percent at all times,” he said. He said he also wants to be as technically sound as possible and get at least one touchdown.

And for his team, he said, “I believe the team’s ultimate goal is to win, however, I also think a game free of injury will be kept in the back of everyone’s mind.”

Advocating for football prospects one story at a time.

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