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Like jersey number, Payne is No. 1 player on the field

Jayden Payne is the No. 4 rusher in the North Coast Section. Cliff Jackson / Staff Photo
Jayden Payne is the No. 4 rusher in the North Coast Section. Cliff Jackson / Staff Photo

Peter Montini wore No. 1 at Foothill and left a legacy that senior running back Jayden Payne wanted to fill.

Montini was a sensation for the Falcons. He was a two-time first team all-league honoree and finished with 1,400 yards and 22 touchdowns his senior year.

He ended up earning a scholarship to the University of Nevada Reno, where he just concluded his freshman season as a linebacker.

Payne saw what Montini did in that jersey, and now he’s wearing No. 1 and forcing his own remarkable story in the number.

“He was No. 1. I wanted to follow in his footsteps, get No. 1,” Payne said. “Now I’m more of like the main guy, where I was the second guy to Pete. Me and Kenny (Olson) getting the ball. It feels good getting it.”

Getting the ball is what Payne is doing every game, as he is making big plays whenever his number is called.

Through five games, Payne has 562 rushing yards, which is the fourth-most in the North Coast Section according to statistics available on MaxPreps, and six touchdowns. Four of those games saw him surpass 100 yards, topping it off with a season-high 161 yards and two touchdowns against Livermore.

That win at Livermore garnered Payne and Foothill an East Bay Athletic League Valley Division title, which is the program’s first league crown since 2015.

Payne, who also boasts 95 receiving yards and a touchdown, credits the success to his coaching staff and teammates.  

“Coaches believing in me, giving me runs, keep feeding me the ball and don’t think I’m getting tired even though I am, but they just keep feeding me, which is good,” Payne said.

While Payne does not know if he will play college football yet, all he is focused on is his final season- and final week – wearing the Foothill football jersey.

“Just want to play for my teammates, play my heart out and then just have fun my senior year,” Payne said.

And Payne is making Montini proud, donning the No. 1 jersey and playing like the No. 1 player out there.

What he also now can add to his resume is a league championship – another No. 1 distinction.

“He’s texted me and a couple of my friends,” Payne said. “First game of the year he said we’ve got to push. He’s watching us. He’s watched a couple of our games. It feels good to win for all those boys that we had last year.”

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