Grayson Foster has dreamed for a long time of the opportunity to be the starting quarterback at Charlotte Latin.
A Charlotte Latin lifer who has attended the school from kindergarten to 12th grade, Foster didn't always know he would have the opportunity but envisioned the possibility.
Now 18, Foster's dreams have become reality; the Latin senior earned the starting quarterback position during the offseason.
"It's been a long process and I have had to work very hard to get where I am now," said Foster, who led the 2009 Charlotte Latin junior varsity team through an undefeated season as the starting quarterback. "But I feel like it was all worth it, because now I'm getting the opportunity to be the quarterback. It's my time."
Foster joins an elite fraternity of Latin stars at the position who have led the Hawks to the last seven NCISAA 3A state championship games and five titles.
Foster first remembers watching Kyle Derham lead the Hawks into state contention before going onto star at wide receiver in college at Pennsylvania.
Then 6-foot-6 all-state quarterback Braden Hanson led the Hawks, tossing 80 touchdown passes in his junior and senior seasons, when Latin won back-to-back state titles. Hanson now is the backup quarterback to starter Bryn Renner at North Carolina.
Most recently, quarterback Sam Spence led Latin to a state title in 2009 before coming up short in 2010, losing to archrival Charlotte Country Day in the finals.
"We have definitely been riding a great wave of quarterbacks and overall talent since 2003," said Charlotte Latin football coach Larry McNulty. "This year is a little different team, but Grayson is our guy, and he is getting better and better every day."
While Foster may not measure up physically to past Latin quarterbacks, at 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds, he makes up for it with tenacious drive and hustle.
In Foster's first two varsity starts, he has guided Charlotte Latin to two out-of-state road wins, beating North Cross of Roanoke, Va., and Ware Shoals, S.C., while throwing three touchdowns and running for another. Latin outscored its opponents 71-7.
But the team struggled in game three, when Observer Sweet 16 No. 3 Charlotte Catholic humbled the Hawks 49-14 on their home field.
"That was definitely a tough game to go through," Foster said. "But we have to learn from our mistakes and move on."
McNulty says the team will play to its strengths, which means featuring the option more often.
"Grayson keeps working and plugging away every day (in practice and in games) and has done that for a long time," McNulty said. "We will have to out-work, out-hustle and out-execute people to beat them.
"That is kind of Grayson's personality."
The main challenge for the Hawks is to get back to the state championship game for the eighth-straight time, something important to Latin players past and present.
"All the older guys are always joking with us that we can't be the ones to break the streak," Foster said. "They are right. We don't want that to happen this year."
If Latin is going to get back to the championship game, Foster will be key, but he has a host of senior friends, teammates and classmates who have been at Latin with him since elementary school to help: Hadley Wilson (left tackle), Patrick Achey (left guard), Will Almquist (right guard), Chris Jones (right tackle), Brian Mittl (running back) and Chase Cisne (wide receiver).
Add wideout Marshall Burlingame, who joined the group in middle school, and you have the core of a team that has been in the Charlotte Latin football program together since seventh grade.
While every player is important, Foster said he knows a burden falls on the Latin quarterback.
"Quarterback is the guy everyone looks to not only in the huddle, but as a leader of the team," said Foster, who won't play college football but wants to go to Auburn, Clemson or Tennessee.
"I want to be that guy.
"I always try to stay positive and focus on what we need to do on the next play."