The Springstead senior quarterback is a vocal leader, lending both admonishment and encouragement to his offense.
SPRING HILL - The pocket rapidly collapsed on Ian Wald, and he was slammed hard to the turf by a swarm of East Ridge defenders.
"That felt really good," the Springstead quarterback deadpanned as he walked off the field, clearly frustrated.
There was a lot to be frustrated about on that fall evening in Clermont, as the Eagles' playoff hopes slipped away with a 35-14 defeat. With a late sack, Wald could not keep the mental exhaustion inside.
He let his feelings be known, a skill he is as proficient at as quarterbacking.
And he's still getting better at both.
"I was pretty vocal last year because I already felt like I was a leader," Wald said. "Now as a senior, that brings leadership to the table too, so I have to be more vocal. It's not really an option."
Falling short of the playoffs again is not an option either for the county's most experienced quarterback. Now in his third year as a starter, Wald has the respect of rival coaches and a mastery of the Eagles' system, but has not experienced the postseason.
Striving toward that goal again this year, Wald will keep doing what led the team to a 7-3 mark last year.
"Same old Springstead, option with the occasional pass," Wald said. "We're going to hit the pass when we can, and we're going to hit it good."
Wald was effective in the system last year, hitting half of his passes (51 of 101) for 592 yards and four touchdowns with just one pick. When running he also held his own, gaining an average of 5.3 yards a carry (475 yards on 90 carries).
This season he knows the weapons are around him, as skill players like Tim Dow, Quinden Floyd and Chris Ferguson return. As for line questions, he refuses to buy into the natural skepticism that comes with the graduation of several experienced linemen.
It's a positive outlook, even when it sounds otherwise.
"They all understand, as many things as I have to say about either the protection or someone making a mistake, they all know I'm just trying to make them better," Wald said. "I also say a lot of things in the huddle that (outsiders) don't hear about as far as motivation. But I'll joke around in the huddle and keep the mood light."
Should Springstead win just one more game in Class 4A, District 6, Wald will be able to talk all the way until mid-November. And that truly would feel good.