Don’t waste time trying to talk about “what if’s” with David Bayha.
“I just refuse to think about that, to worry about that,” says Bayha, senior starting quarterback at Weddington High. “I can’t change what happened. I can only affect what’s ahead for us.”
What’s ahead, he hopes, will be better than some of the past for Bayha, a 6-2, 210-pounder who has been spectacular during most of the past two seasons.
He was the starter in 2014, guiding a Weddington team that finished 14-2, including a 14-7 loss in the 3AA state title game to Northern Guilford. But in the 10th game of the season, Bayha was diagnosed with a broken fibula that he’d actually suffered five games earlier.
He recovered enough to play one series in the state title game but then learned he needed reconstructive surgery for a torn labrum.
“I had to learn how to throw again,” he says. “It was painful.”
Now-graduated Grayson Willingham, who had replaced Bayha late in the 2014 season, alternated time with him last fall. But Bayha won back the job after rallying the Warriors back from a 17-point deficit and throwing a 51-yard touchdown pass on the last play of the game in a 30-28 victory over Sun Valley.
Then came another setback – another fibula fracture, this time in the regular-season finale against Marvin Ridge. Bayha was on the sidelines when Weddington reached the third round of the playoffs, losing 47-44 in overtime at Crest.
“I am healthy now,” Bayha says. “I’ve done everything the doctors said to do. I’ve worked hard to rehab. I think I’m stronger than ever.”
Bayha is a dual threat, throwing for 1,600 yards last season but also finishing among the team’s rushing leaders, despite the injury.
Keeping Bayha and his teammates healthy is a big concern for Weddington head coach Tim Carson, who has built the Warriors into a powerhouse in his six seasons at the school but faces tough Southern Carolinas 3A Conference competition from Marvin Ridge and Sun Valley, among others.
“We have 32 players, 20 of them seniors,” Carson says. “We’ve got a lot of talent, but we have to stay healthy. We’ve tried preparing for the season by being smart. We don’t beat each other to death in practice. And keeping David healthy is important.”
There is plenty of other talent – such as senior running back Wil Brunson; sophomore receiver-defensive back James Shipley, and freshman receiver Chase Turner – but Bayha will be a key.
“This group of 20 seniors is really tight,” Bayha says. “We push each other all the time.”
With a 4.86 grade-point average (on a 5.0 scale) and offers from three Ivy League schools and the University of Chicago, among others, Bayha is like many other Weddington players – looking at plenty of options, in addition to football.
The Warriors don’t always have the best talent on the field on any given Friday night, but they have an unbeatable attitude, coaches say. In addition to their deep playoff runs the past two seasons, the Warriors reached the third round of postseason play in 2013.
“The kids here play football because they love the game,” Carson says. “They are bright, and they’ve bought into the system.
“Add in the great support of our school and fans, and you have a great place to coach and play football.”
Observer Sweet 16: Weddington Warriors
The Observer continues with previews of teams in its annual preseason Sweet 16 high school football poll. The teams will be revealed in alphabetical order. The poll, with numerical order, will be released Friday.
Head coach: Tim Carson (Sixth season at Weddington, 85-72 overall)
2015 record: 11-3 (4-1 in the Southern Carolinas Conference)
Key returning starters: Joey Hobbs, Sr., LB (5-11, 200); David Bayha, Sr., QB (6-2, 205); Wyatt Furlong, Sr., OT (6-0, 230); Eamon Murphy, So., WR/DB (6-1, 180).
Key newcomers: John Williamson, Sr., DE/LB (6-3, 210); James Shipley, So., WR/DB (5-9, 155).
Returning starters: 10 (5 offense; 5 defense)
Outlook: Weddington has posted 45 victories over the past four seasons. This season, the Warriors look to return atop of the Southern Carolinas Conference (runner-up to Marvin Ridge last season) and make another deep run in the 3AA playoffs. Expecations are high for a pair of seniors - quarterback David Bayha and linebacker Joey Hobbs.