LAWRENCE — Jacob Tamayo is not in the business of making predictions.
The Lawrence High quarterback isn’t wasting time forecasting big wins or epic upsets, nor is he sweating the speculation of those outside of Lawrence Stadium.
“I’ll leave that for the ‘experts,’” said Tamayo. “What I do know, though, is that I believe in myself and the guys around me. We have some talent, and we’ve worked hard enough to win games. Now we have to go out and earn it.”
This fall, Lawrence football will once again look to Tamayo’s powerful right arm and quick feet to lead them to victory.
Tamayo is heading into his third season as starting quarterback for Lawrence High, which kicks off its season on Saturday by welcoming Burlington High to Lawrence Memorial Stadium (noon).
“My excitement level is way over a 10,” said Tamayo. “I’m a little anxious because it’s my senior season. I want to succeed as a team, and be the best quarterback that I can be. I’m confident we can do that.”
A star in the classroom — he’s currently enrolled in two Advanced Placement classes and is taking another at Merrimack College — Tamayo is also one of the most dangerous playmakers in the Merrimack Valley Conference.
Last fall as a junior, the 5-foot-10, 175-pounder threw for 1,032 yards and nine touchdown, rushed for 280 yards and two more scores and caught a TD on a reverse pass.
“Jacob’s ability to stretch the field with his arm and extend plays with his legs makes him one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the conference,” said second-year Lancers head coach Rhandy Audate. “He more than meets our expectations both on the field and off, and he’s a great example for the younger student/athletes.”
WINNING THE JOB
A lifelong Lawrence resident, Tamayo first broke into the Lancers’ lineup two seasons ago — as a receiver — before winning the starting quarterback job before the fourth game of the 2017 season.
Who did Tamayo have to face in his first career start?
The sophomore was matched up against eventual Division 2 North finalist North Andover, a squad featuring the same core that would win the Division 2 state title a season later.
“I was a little in shock,” said Tamayo. “I felt like I deserved to start, but I was only about 140 pounds. It was a different speed, and North Andover was so talented. But once I got the jitters out, I realized I could just play the game.”
Tamayo threw for 172 yards that day, and two weeks later added 136 yards and his first two career touchdowns passes against Methuen.
“That’s when I really started to feel comfortable,” said Tamayo, who finished that season with 864 yards and six touchdowns passing. “I started throwing the ball with more confidence and scrambling out of the pocket more.”
Tamayo and Lawrence faced a major transition last fall when Audate was hired to replace 13-year Lancers head coach Mike Yameen.
Firmly entrenched as one of the team’s leaders, Tamayo did his best to ease that transition while establishing himself as a standout on the field.
Tamayo’s biggest performances last fall included a 157-yard, three touchdown passing day in a victory over Chelmsford and a career-high 203 yards and two TDs throwing in a near upset of Lowell. The Lancers finished the season 2-8.
“One of coach’s favorite quotes is ‘Ride the wave,’” said the QB. “That’s what we did last year. We trusted the process. It didn’t always go our way, but it was an experiment I think will pay off. I love playing for coach Audate. He brings energy to practice, and he’s a really smart coach.”
Tamayo now hopes his skills and experience will mean even more success this fall.
“I feel like I’m pretty poised,” he said. “When the guys get rattled, I remind them what we need to do. I keep things calm. I think that’s my best quality.
“I also like being a dual-threat, passing and running. I feel like a passing touchdown is more satisfying to watch, but when a QB runs for a touchdown it’s more electric. Hopefully you’ll see both this year. We’ll see how the season turns out, but I’m confident in this team.”
Lawrence High quarterback Jacob Tamayo is a star in the classroom.
The senior is currently enrolled in two Advanced Placement classes, calculus and seminar, and has a 3.5 grade-point average.
Tamayo is also enrolled in Merrimack College’s Early College Program. He’s taking engineering this fall at Merrimack after taking biology last year.
Also a member of the Lawrence High track team, Tamayo is currently considering architecture and business as possible careers.
Contact David Willis at @DWillisET or DWillis@eagletribune.com.