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PAYSON'S LINCOLN TAYLOR FINDS THAT LESS IS MORE

Friday night big Lincoln Taylor will take his place on the offensive line for Payson. He'll pop off his position at tackle and try to open a hole for running back Luke Osborn, or buy some time for quarterback Nate Martinson.

But get out your programs, because if you knew Lincoln Taylor before, you won't recognize him now.Taylor is now 6-foot-6, 225 pounds. He's usually much bigger than those who line up next to him, but he's not as big as he used to be.

Two years ago, as a sophomore, Lincoln Taylor was too big. He was 6-foot-3, 305 pounds.

Too big to keep from getting a snicker from opposing teams when he took the basketball court.

Too big to shine on the baseball diamond. While he could get away with the added weight on the football field, he was still too big and slow to handle quicker lineman.

When Taylor turned his attention to basketball, getting up and down the court on fast breaks became a problem. And in the spring, when he played baseball, running around the bases was so discouraging it took the fun out of the game.

"I quit baseball because it just wasn't fun running to first base," Taylor said.

When Taylor's sophomore year at Payson ended, he knew something had to be done. He had a dream of starting with his brother Jamon on the basketball court.

But that wasn't going to happen if he didn't lose weight.

"I always thought I could play. When I was in the 9th grade I was too slow to start, so I was the sixth man," Taylor said."I wanted to play, so I knew I had to lose weight. Now it's a lot more fun to run up and down the court instead of just walking fast."

Taylor met with Payson coach John Wardenburg and discussed his basketball future.

"We sat down, him and his parents, and talked about what he needed to do to play basketball for me. He needed to lose weight so he could get up and down the floor better," Wardenburg said.

Wardenburg, who is now the assistant coach for Dixie College, said there was never a doubt about his ability to score. "He has excellent hands and he can really score. He knew he needed to lose weight and to his credit he did. I don't know how much weight he lost, but he is a different guy."

Taylor made up his mind - no more sweets. No more candy, no more junk food and no more carbonated drinks.

Something inside clicked and Lincoln Taylor took charge of his body. In a little more than a year, Taylor went from 305 to 225.

"It was amazing a kid his age could do that. All he did was cut out junk - cake, candy and stuff and it totally changed his life," said Jamon, Lincoln's older brother, who graduated last year.

"I used to beat him in everything we'd play athletically. Now when he wants to play, I have to find an excuse, or somewhere to go."

Last year, the Taylor brothers played a key role in Payson's compiling a 4-4 record. Jamon smashed most of the school's passing records, while Lincoln played center, a position he wanted to play so he could protect his brother.

"He did pretty good most of the season," Jamon said. "It got to be a joke around the house - he'd say if I ever made him mad, he'd just do the old ole' and let his man through."

The two also worked together helping the Lions' basketball team to a fifth-place finish in the state tournament.

Now Jamon is throwing touchdown passes at Dixie College and Lincoln is concentrating on having a senior season to remember.

"You have to remember, he's still very young. He just barely turned 17," said Payson football coach Bart Peery. "You might not think losing weight would help in football, but he's really improved his quickness and foot speed."

When the Lions wrap up their football season Taylor will turn his attention to the basketball court, where big things are expected of him.

One thing current Payson basketball coach Dan Lunt doesn't have to worry about is Taylor running up and down the court.

"When I got here he was about 250 pounds and he's changed so much since then," Lunt said. "He's improved his quickness and he has a good left and right-handed hook shot. I think he's as good as anyone at his position in the state."

Taylor will be looking to improve pretty impressive numbers from his junior year, where he averaged 12 points and six rebounds a game playing on at the varsity level, and 20 points, 12 rebounds in junior varsity games.

Taylor has done what he had to do and taken control of his situation. Now, as a senior, it's time for him to reap the rewards.