Malachi Fields has a thing for numbers.
The Monticello High School sophomore quarterback enjoys solving problems and says that his favorite class is personal finance and economics.
That proficiency for problem solving and analytics served Fields well last Friday night as he led the Mustangs to a 35-14 road victory over Orange County. He threw for 75 yards and a pair of touchdowns and ran for 52 yards and another score to earn Schewels Athlete of the Week honors.
“Last week, we played as a team and we stepped up on defense,” Fields said. “It was the best game we’ve played all year.”
The win improved Monticello to 2-7 on the season and helped snap a seven-game losing streak. Fields’ play at the quarterback position has been a bright spot for a young Mustang team looking for confidence.
“I thought Malachi played his best game so far this season against Orange,” Monticello coach Jeff Lloyd said. “Even though his passing numbers, yardage wise, weren’t very high, he still threw two touchdowns and we dropped one. He used his running ability to extend and make plays.”
On the year, Fields has amassed more than 1,700 yards of all-purpose yardage and has been the focal point of the Mustangs’ offense. He has thrown for 1,056 yards and 12 touchdowns and averaged 15.8 yards per completion. The sophomore leads the team in rushing with 509 yards and nine touchdowns and is responsible for 21 of the team’s 25 touchdowns this season.
Following the graduation of several key seniors, including all-time leading passer Kevin Jarrell, Lloyd knew there would be some growing pains this season. Fields opened fall camp in a competition for the starting quarterback spot with Chase Emmert, a transfer from St. Anne’s-Belfield.
Lloyd liked what he saw from Fields during fall camp and named him starter for the season opener.
“Malachi is a great kid, first and foremost, and is very respected by his teammates and works very hard,” Lloyd said. “He is very athletic and can throw the ball a country mile. He will continue to get better and better the more he plays the position. He is for sure a dual-threat quarterback, which makes him very difficult to defend.”
Fields was shocked as anyone.
“When practice started, I didn’t really feel like Chase and I were competing because I have always played wide out since little league and I’m pretty good at it, so I thought he was going to start at quarterback and I would start at wide out,” Fields said. “But Coach Lloyd had other plans, so I took the job.”
The sophomore’s love of football began at an early age after his parents signed him up to play flag football. After football season, he kept busy playing basketball and baseball. He still plays baseball as a pitcher and centerfielder.
“Football has been my favorite out of the three [sports] so I stuck with it,” Fields said.
Although he’s never lived in Baltimore, he admits he has a fascination for the sports teams in the Charm City. He loves the Baltimore Ravens and the Baltimore Orioles. His favorite players to watch on the gridiron are Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones and New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley.
“I don’t try to [emulate] anybody else really,” Fields said. “I try to be my own person. I’ve always wanted to be different than others.”
Lloyd said that individual confidence is what makes Fields special.
“He is just ‘Joe Cool’ back there,” Lloyd said. “Whether it’s going good or bad, you would never know by the way he carries himself. It is very neat to see him become our team leader and vocal leader because he’s a quiet kid.”
Fields said he’s become more comfortable in his role on the team as the season has progressed.
“Coach Lloyd’s offense fits me because it’s easy to make a choice either to run or throw,” Fields said. “If it’s a run, he taught me how to read [defenses] and [know] when to hand the ball off or pull it and run myself. My favorite play is probably the quarterback trap, because I get to run the ball.”
He has had ample opportunities to run this season, some out of scheme and others out of necessity as injuries have decimated the offense. The Mustangs have lost three of their five offensive linemen for the year, which has affected the continuity up front.
Fields was the primary option in the running game for most of the season before the emergence of Devonta Hargrove midway through the season. Despite the struggles, Lloyd said Fields has never complained or gotten upset at his offensive line, which shows leadership.
“He has, for sure, had some ups and downs, but that is part of the process in learning to play the position,” Lloyd said. “The things he will get better at will be being more consistent as he plays more. The thing I like the most about the kid is his demeanor and body language are always positive, and that’s what you want from your quarterback.”
Fields said he spoke with Jarrell last month about what it means to play quarterback at Monticello.
“The advice I got was to be a leader and take control of the team,” he said. “This season hasn’t gone how I expected, but it’s a learning experience and I just have to work out during the offseason and be ready for next year.”