When Lake Norman quarterback Josh Ladowski steps onto the football field, he knows only one speed.
Whether Ladowski, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound junior, is completing a drill in practice, running the scout team (which he does each week), playing in a game, or even running sprints at the end of the Wildcats practices, he does everything at the same pace.
Ive got to go full speed, all the time, Ladowski said. Its not even fun for me to do anything else. I cant just go through the motions, its just not who I am.
Lake Norman coach Rob McNeely notices Ladowskis efforts on daily basis.
Josh is the ultimate competitor, said McNeely, noting his quarterback also has a 4.2 grade-point average. He practices 100 miles an hour, every drill, every sprint. He always wants to be the best or the first.
Ladowskis efforts didnt go unnoticed last year when he passed 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.
Ladowski already has eclipsed most of those numbers this yearwith 1,943 yards passing and 1,176 of his teams 1,507 yards rushing in seven games. In Fridays 42-41 win over Sweet 16 No. 16 South Iredell a win that ended Souths 16-game winning streak Ladowski threw for 414 yards and ran for 182.
Ladowski averages more than 400 yards of total offense per game.
As gaudy as Ladowskis numbers are, perhaps the most amazing fact on Ladowski is that football isnt even his primary sport he is the Wildcats shortstop and he committed to play baseball at the University of North Carolina in July.
But for now, he is focused on enjoying every moment of the football season.
So far, this has definitely been the best season Ive ever had in my life, and Im having a great time doing it, Ladowski said. But most of what Ive 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 says his offensive line has made huge holes in the running game and given him ample time to find options in the passing game.
The linemen center Patrick Ryan, guards Tanner Cross and Dom Turkovics and tackles Harrison Carlson and Robert Gibson arent huge, but they are getting the job done as a collective group each game, according to McNeely.
Meanwhile, Ladowski isnt the only Wildcat having a breakout season. Junior wideout Corey Joyner has 40 receptions for 904 yards and 11 touchdowns. Two of Joyners games stand out: a 10-catch, 157-yard, five-touchdown effort in a win over Hopewell, and an eight-catch, 254-yard, three-touchdown game in a victory over Alexander Central. Fellow junior receivers Baker White and Dylan Galbo have stepped up as well.
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 reasons for their success. Lake Norman is 5-2, 3-0 in the North Piedmont 3A-4A Conference.
We havent been able to go into every season with the conference championship as our goal, said McNeely, 15-26 in his fourth year as coach. But this year, winning conference is our No. 1 goal. Right now, weve put ourselves in control of our destiny.
Lake Norman is in control not only because of its victory Friday over South Iredell but also because of what happened the previous week against Statesville when Ladowski passed for 351 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 253 yards and four more TDs in a 45-41 comeback win.
In that game, the Wildcats scored twice in the final five minutes to erase a 41-30 deficit. The clincher came with 1:38 left on a 29-yard pass from Ladowski to White.
Adding to the drama of the Statesville game, Ladowski said he didnt know if he was going to be able to play in the second half because he was cramping at halftime. But his father 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 didnt give it to him at first, because I couldnt believe it was over and we had won.
The Wildcats hope to have many more moments and games to remember in the next couple months as they make a push for the conference title, playoffs and more.
Were really excited about how weve started this year, but we arent even close to satisfied, Ladowski said. Its only pushing us to work harder every day in practice.
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