When Lake Norman quarterback Josh Ladowski steps on the football field, he knows only one speed.Whether the 5-foot-10, 180-pound junior is completing a drill in practice, running the scout team – which he does against his own defense each week – playing in a game, or even running sprints at the end of his Wildcats’ practices, he does everything at the same pace.“I’ve got to go full speed, all the time,” Ladowski said. “It’s not even fun for me to do anything else. I can’t just go through the motions, it’s just not who I am.”Lake Norman football coach Rob McNeely notices Ladowski’s efforts on daily basis.“Josh is the ultimate competitor,” said McNeely, noting his quarterback also has a 4.2 grade-point average in school. “He practices 100 miles an hour, every drill, every sprint. He always want to be the best or the first.”Ladowski’s efforts didn’t go unnoticed last year, when the then-sophomore threw for 853 yards and five touchdowns and ran for 1,264 yards and 11 more scores while leading his team to a 5-7 record.This year, the Lake Norman junior has already eclipsed most of those numbers in nearly every category, as he had 1,529 yards passing and 14 touchdowns passes as well as 994 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns through the Wildcats’ first six games.Ladowski averages 414 yards of total offense per game, with 254 yards coming through the air and 166 per contest on the ground. While Ladowski’s numbers are nearly off the charts, the most amazing part is that football isn’t even his primary sport. He’s the starting shortstop on Lake Norman’s varsity baseball team and has committed to play at North Carolina next year.But for now, he is focused on enjoying every moment of his season on the gridiron.“So far, this has definitely been the best season I’ve ever had in my life, and I’m having a great time doing it,” Ladowski said. “But most of what I’ve been able to do is because of everybody around me. My offensive line is playing great, my receivers are getting open, our whole team is playing great.”Ladowski said the Wildcats’ offensive line has made huge holes in the running game and gives him ample time to find options in the passing game.That group – which includes center Patrick Ryan, guards Tanner Cross and Dom Turkovics, and tackles Harrison Carlson and Robert Gibson – isn’t huge, but is getting the job done each game, according to McNeely.Meanwhile, Ladowski isn’t the only one having a breakout season for the Wildcats. Junior wideout Corey Joyner has 40 catches for 904 yards and 11 touchdowns. Joyner had has some big-time performances, including a 10-catch, 157-yard, five-TD effort in a win over Hopewell, and a eight-catch, 254-yard, three-TD game in a victory over Alexander Central.Meanwhile, junior receivers Baker White and Dylan Galbo have also stepped up their games.Ladowski also credits his quarterback coach and offensive coordinator Aubrey Carter, and the Wildcats’ offensive line coach Chuck Tabor, in addition to McNeely, as big reason for their success.All of that has translated to a 4-2 record (2-0 North Piedmont 3A-4A), just one win shy of their win total from last year, while also putting Lake Norman right in the thick of the conference title race. While individual numbers are great, they say the only statistic that matters is the win column.“We haven’t been able to go into every season with the conference championship as our goal,” said McNeely, who is 15-26 as Lake Norman’s coach. “But this year, winning conference is our number one goal. Right now, we’ve put ourselves in control of our destiny.”If Lake Norman wants to continue their winning ways, they will need Ladowski to keep making big plays and having big games like he did earlier this month against a heart-stopping 45-41 win over Statesville.In that game, Ladowski not only passed for 351 yards and two touchdowns but also rushed for 253 yards and four more scores.But it’s the comeback Ladowski and the Wildcats made that is the real story, as they scored twice in the last five minutes to turn a 41-30 deficit into a 45-41 win. The clincher came with 1:38 left when Ladowski found White on a 29-yard touchdown.Ladowski said he didn’t know if he was going to make it to the second half, as he was cramping everywhere at halftime. But his father, Robert, who is on the sidelines for most games (along with his younger brother, Cole, who is a freshman at Lake Norman) suggested he drink some pickle juice, and it worked.“That game (Statesville) was crazy, it was probably the most memorable of my career,” Ladowski said. “At the end of the game, when we were downing it, the referee asked for the ball, I didn’t give it to him at first, because I couldn’t believe it was over and we had won.”Lake Norman hopes to have many more moments and games to remember in the next couples months as they make a push for the conference title, playoffs and more.“We’re really excited about how we’ve started this year, but we aren’t even close to satisfied,” Ladowski said. “It’s only pushing us to work harder every day in practice.”
Monday, Oct. 14, 2013
Full speed ahead
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer for the Lake Norman News. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at email@example.com .
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