Being the person in charge comes with its share of challenges.
Mishawaka Marian’s Maddix Bogunia-Bright knows this all too well.
“Playing quarterback is not the easiest position to play because of all the knowledge that comes with the game,” explained the senior signal caller. “You have to know what all 22 players on the field are doing and my biggest problem was adjusting to the varsity speed as a quarterback, as well as winning the job from a senior who played the position the year before and had a lot of the locker room thinking in the end he was going to start.
“There was a point of doubt and anxiety. I began to question myself if I was wasting my time or if I could really do something at the quarterback position.”
Making the switch from his wide receiver slot proved to be beneficial for both Marian and Bogunia-Bright a year ago as the Knights posted a 12-2 record and claimed the Northern Indiana Conference South Division crown as well as Class 3A sectional and regional titles before bowing out to eventual state champion Indianapolis Bishop Chatard in the northern semistate.
In addition to completing 91-of-162 passes for 1,262 yards with 20 touchdowns, the 6-foot-2, 175-pound standout also ran 95 times for 431 yards and 13 scores.
“I played quarterback my freshman year and the quarterback ahead of me (Mitchell Nagy) had mono,” recalled Bogunia-Bright, who had 14 catches for 261 yards with three touchdowns as a sophomore. “He was going to be missing some time, so the coaches asked me if I would like to try to play quarterback.
“I had a chance to compete for quarterback, but I would also have my wide receiver spot if it was not working out. Personally, I do not care what position I play. I just enjoy playing the game.”
This has been evident in the early going with 38-of-59 completions for 691 yards with 10 touchdowns and 25 rushes for 161 yards and three scores for the top-ranked Knights (4-0).
“Maddix has been a great team player for us and is always willing to do what’s necessary to win,” said Marian head coach Mike Davidson. “That’s probably his best attribute as a quarterback, the fact that he gets to make the decisions to get the right person the ball to help the team win. It’s not about his stats or his best friends stats. He’s a real competitor.
“As a leader, he’s looked to as a team captain and as one of the guys who lead both vocally and by example. It’d be easy to have an ego in his shoes, but he just wants to win and help the team in any manner.”
Help from all directions has paved the way for his success.
“My coaches and teammates around me have all been working really hard to push me to go harder,” Bogunia-Bright said. “I push my teammates to go harder as well and my coaches are always showing me new ways to improve. It helps when I have a bunch of playmakers to get the ball to and a (offensive) line that has been giving me good protection to distribute the ball to my playmakers.
“There has really not been one influential person because I feel like all of the coaching staff was excited for me to see what I could do, so they all had a lot of confidence in me. However, I remember my position coach at the time, Coach (Mark) Kubacki, was always excited for me. He would get on me when it was needed, but he would also hype me up and get in extra work with me and build me up. We talked at least three times a week off the field, so he was a person I could go to if I needed anything.”
After attending elementary and middle school in Bremen, Maddix thought a change of scenery to Mishawaka was necessary to help in his progression both on and off the football field.
“It (Bremen) was not really the environment for me,” explained Bogunia-Bright. “There was not much diversity and the type of success that I am looking for after high school. It was a really small town and I wanted to be different than the average person. There was not that much that challenged me and forced me to grow to become a better person and athlete.
“Marian checked all of the boxes that I am looking for. Marian has a strong alumni network, diversity, good academics as well as competing sports teams. Ultimately, I chose Marian for a fresh start and an opportunity to make my name known.
Entering his third season at the controls, Davidson knew from the outset that Bogunia-Bright was a special talent.
“As a freshman, he stepped up to varsity as a holder and as a sophomore, he helped make plays on the perimeter at wide receiver,” Davidson recalled. “The last two seasons he’s taken the reins and developed into the type of quarterback the rest of the team wants to play for, not just play with. It’s because they see that he is playing for them.
“He’s electric on the field and has that ‘it’ factor that allows him to be himself. He demands the most out of himself and those around him, and wants everyone ready to make the play when he’s needed.”
After lettering in basketball as well as track and field as a sophomore, Maddix intends to return to the track this spring.
However, dealing with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has forced him to take nothing for granted.
“The biggest challenge athletes have incurred with this pandemic is not knowing whether it could be your last game or if you are even going to play,” Bogunia-Bright said. “I know that my team and every team across the nation would be heartbroken if this season got canceled because of all the hard work that everyone has put in to try and make this season possible.”