MAROA — There might be only one person on the planet who has seen as many Maroa-Forsyth football practices as Josh Jostes.
As far back as Wade Jostes, Josh's son, can remember, he's been at Walter Boyd Field, right by his dad's side every step of the way. When Wade was in first grade, Josh, Maroa-Forsyth's head football coach, put him in flag football. Those games were played at Walter Boyd Field.
Wade knows the venue, knows what's expect and knows playbook inside and out. He always has.
“Since I could walk," he said.
On Saturday during Maroa's annual 7-on-7 tournament Wade stood behind the end zone with a black headband around his forehead with a tail that extended just past his shoulders, a black compression sleeve just over his right calf and a silver necklace around his next — perhaps the most fitting piece of all of his attire.
Hanging from the silver chain was the No. 1. It's the number Wade, a junior for the Trojans, wears on Friday night. After former quarterback Ian Benner announced he was transferring to Chatham Glenwood for his senior season, that number started to carry more weight.
Now it means QB1: The team's starting quarterback when Maroa opens on Aug. 30 at Virden North Mac.
There wasn't a hint of nervousness out of Wade. He's always planned to start for the Trojans at quarterback, it just came a year sooner than he had scheduled.
“Honestly, everyone thinks it’s a really big change, but I’ve been playing quarterback my whole life," Wade said. "Not the starting varsity quarterback, and next year I was obviously going to be, it’s just a year earlier. Everybody believes in me, at least I think."
Both Wade and Josh Jostes know the best is yet to come. The Trojans play for October and November, not for July and August. It's been a fast turnaround for Wade to hop back into the driver's seat at quarterback. In December, he was prepping to be a safety and a slot wide receiver for the Trojans. He's only got about two weeks under his belt as the team's starting quarterback and has worked on building his arm strength back up and fine-tuning the timing with his receivers while factoring in the speed of the game.
“He’ll get it figured out," Josh said. "Is he playing his best football? No. Will he play his best football by the time October and November roll around? Absolutely. That’s what we play for."
Wade has worked with Luke Hockaday in an effort to catch up to speed at a rapid pace. There's about a week left before things slow down prior to practices beginning on Aug. 12. In the first game of Saturday's 7-on-7, Josh had to get after Wade for his mental presence in the game. Josh has coached his fair share of quarterbacks and knows what to look for out of them. If Wade overthrows a ball during a July 7-on-7, Josh can live with that as long as it was to the right receiver at the right time.
“Decision making," Josh said about where Wade could improve the most. "That can be said about every quarterback I’ve ever had. It gets better with time, it gets better when you’ve seen something once, five times, 10 times, 40 times. He’ll continue to get better as we go along. I know he’s competitive. I know he’s smart.
“He doesn’t throw a bad ball. Unfortunately for him it’s bad genetics, he’s only 5-9. He will be fine. He’ll get the job done for his kids and it matters to him."
Like all quarterbacks, Wade hasn't been able to put his speed on full display in 7-on-7's. It's an added element to his game that will help the Trojans, who have gone to three straight Class 2A state championship games, continue on their path to success.
Wade is eager to break loose during the summer if his receivers are covered up. He's never been this fast as a starting quarterback, and was a member of the 4x100- and 4x200-meter relay teams, which each advanced to May's Class 1A state finals in Charleston and the Trojans finished fifth in the state in the 4x200.
On Saturday, after nearly taking a sack in 7-on-7, Wade escaped the rush and got the ball out. On the sidelines, Wade said, Josh told him he'd never be able to outrun a varsity defender.
“I’m like, ‘I mean, I was all-state at track,'" Wade said with a grin.
When Wade and Josh Jostes walked into their home on Saturday night, though, the football conversation stopped. It doesn't matter how many practices they've seen together or what kind of mistakes Wade made that day, there's no football talk when they're at home. That rule can be chalked up to Josh's wife, Heidi Jostes.
"My wife and daughter are all in, but they don’t care about the nuances of that," Josh said. "There’s nothing productive. We’ll get it done here at the field then he can go be my son and be a kid and hang out at the pool or whatever it is he does."
Everything football starts and ends at Walter Boyd Field, just like it always has.