MAROA — For years Josh Jostes was the area's young-gun head coach full of questions.
When he was hired at Maroa-Forsyth in 2000, he was among the youngest head football coach in Macon County. Now, he’s the longest tenured head football coach in Macon County.
As the years passed, he's spent his time leaning on veteran coaches, asking questions and going to clinic after clinic to learn more about the game of football.
Anyone who knows Josh Jostes knows that he hasn’t much changed in that regard. He’s active on Twitter, following coaches across the country looking for ways to fine tune the football dynasty he’s built brick by brick at Maroa-Forsyth. But over the last 10 years, something’s changed.
These days, it's Jostes' phone that rings from area coaches who need advice. They reach out to him to tour every element of his program, like the weight room — a staple of Trojan football — or simply just to get together to talk about the game they pour their everything in to.
Of course, if Jostes wasn’t winning, those calls wouldn’t come. Jostes steered Maroa-Forsyth to its third consecutive state championship game this season, finishing the year 13-1 after a loss to Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley in Champaign, earning Jostes the Herald & Review Macon County Coach of the Year for the seventh time in his tenure at Maroa. He was co-coach of the year last season.
“In this profession, you’re either growing or getting better or you’re not," Jostes said. "The best ones are doing that. I lean on (Rochester coach) Derek Leonard a lot. When I have questions, he's who my first call is to. The good ones are going to lean on people. I feel obligated to be that guy for young coaches or any program."
Honestly, though, Jostes takes just as much from the conversations as the coaches who dial his number. He'll have upwards of four or five meetings with coaches at conferences. It's flattering, he said, to be the one leaned on.
The thought process is of the same grain as when Jostes deploys his team to help the next generation.
“It’s a give and take for sure, going back and forth," he said. "Even with my kids, when I make them help out with our JFL program, I think its two-fold. It gives our young kids heroes, but it also makes sure our kids have mastered what it is we’re asking of them. You can’t teach it if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing. That’s something we like to do as well."
Count Arcola coach Nick Lindsey as someone who leans on Jostes' vast football knowledge.
"Anytime you have a program that has had the success that Josh has had, I'd be mistaken to not look at what they're doing and see if we can incorporate it," Lindsey said. "Only a handful of programs have sustained success like they have, which is impressive."
By Maroa's standards, this year was par for the course: Blow through the regular season (the Trojans were undefeated), plow through the playoffs and return to the sate title game — it was the 8th time Jostes has guided Maroa there.
But there were milestones. Maroa finally beat Williamsville, 35-15 in Week 4, got a close win against Athens in Week 7 and beat rival St. Teresa in the Class 2A semifinals.
The St. T game was the start of a two-game stretch that had the Trojans feeling like they were playing the first of two consecutive championship games.
“If you had to poll our kids and they either win the Macon County Super Bowl or win a state championship, we probably would have picked the St. T game to win," Jostes said. "It’s that important to our kids and our area. It was a huge game for us."
Even after an emotional win, in horrible weather, there wasn't a let down with the top defense in the all of the class in GCMS next on deck. Maroa scored more on the Falcons than any other team this year, but a few bad bounces cost the Trojans.
"Every game there are four or five key plays and most of them went against us and that was the difference in winning or losing," Jostes said. "They’re a great club. Our kids are a great ball club also."
In the process of getting his team better, Jostes didn't turn down an opportunity to provide advice and tips to whoever needed them. That's just who Josh Jostes is, as a person and as a coach.
Whether he was on social media plucking knowledge from across the country or sharing his philosophies with coaches in the area, football was never far from his mind.
And neither were wins.