Payton Falk showed what he can do as a quarterback in July. After receiving an invite to the Duel, the eighth grader from Manitoba, Canada, journeyed to NFA’s international competition with some understandable trepidation.
“I was expecting a lot of competition,” he said.
Falk’s expectations were certainly realized, but his own competitive juices kicked in and he finished fifth in his grade group. “It made me feel pretty good,” Falk said. “I really wasn’t expecting to finish in the Top 5. To go there and do so well, it really helped my confidence a lot. It made me feel like I was able to be versatile and could compete at quarterback.”
Heading into his season with the Eastman Raiders in Manitoba, Falk was looking forward to playing quarterback for the third straight year.
Instead, he got caught up in a numbers game and primarily played slot for the Raiders.
“It was something I just had to deal with,” Falk said. “I just tried to do the best I could at the position I was playing.”
Falk played exceptionally well at slot back, scoring a whopping 20 touchdowns while leading the Raiders in receptions and receiving yards. “I think having played quarterback helped me play the slot,” he said. “I was able to read the defenses and understand what they were trying to do.”
With Falk helping the offense pile up points, the Raiders went 6-2 during the regular season before bowing out in the semifinals of the playoffs. “I felt it was very important that we played so well as a team and had a good season,” he said. “Where we play, we’re a rural team outside of the city (Winnipeg). We’re considered an underdog so to have a good season, it meant a lot to us.”
Next year, Falk will be a freshman at St. Paul’s High School and he’s looking forward to changing positions. “My goal is to play quarterback,” Falk said. “I like being in charge of the team and leading the offense and getting wins.”
St. Paul’s is a football powerhouse, and the Crusaders won the Winnipeg High School Football League championship this past season.
At St. Paul’s, many freshmen play on the junior varsity football team. The next step up is the AA team, with the AAA team providing the top level of competition.
“In Grade 9, I want to play on the AA team,” Falk said. “And I want to play quarterback next year. I’m really looking forward to playing quarterback and leading the team.”
Training with NFA the past year has helped Falk develop his QB skills, and he’s looking to improve even more before advancing to the high school level.
“NFA has helped me a lot,” Falk said. “My first camp was in Minneapolis and I was able to throw about 5 yards farther after they corrected my form. My release was faster and my accuracy was better. They really helped me a lot.”