Entering his sophomore season, William Penn quarterback James Way had no idea he would become the starter that season. He was behind a senior, Tavon Parker, who was well established.
Early in the season, Parker decided to concentrate on basketball. The move turned out beneficial to the Bearcats, who quickly found their signal caller for the next few seasons. In his first full fall as starter, Way became the YAIAA's only player to throw for 1,000 yards and run for another grand during the regular season. When his junior season concluded, Way had a YAIAA-best 1,671 yards passing.
Combine that with his efforts in the Bearcats' secondary, and the YAIAA Division I coaches voted him as their Player of the Year. Here is what Way had to say about it:
What was your reaction to finding out you were the Division I Player of the Year?
I was actually shocked. I didn't expect to win it.
I thought it was based on stats ... I don't know. I thought the (Breaun) Randle kid from Central was going to win it.
How did you react to being thrust into the starting QB job last year?
I was nervous. It was such a big role to play football as a sophomore. I watched Tavon play and his leadership ... the role came fast and it was unexpected.
When did you find out?
It was that first Monday that I found out I was going to be the starting quarterback against Harrisburg.
What were your nerves like entering that first game?
Oh my gosh. Everybody was telling me how good of a team Harrisburg was; they were big, and I wasn't developed.
How did jumping into the spot help you this year?
Well, I had to take the leadership role whether I liked it or not. That kind of forced me into it. It made me a better leader.
Your dad, James Way II, is on the coaching staff at William Penn. What's that like?
I don't like it. Normally, kids that have their dads as a coach want to get away from their pops. I think it's good, though. He gives me tips and makes me play better.
How has training with assistant coach Ali Johnson helped?
We worked on explosion. His workout is a great full workout. When you burst, the results are crazy. It's kind of hard to explain.
I'm just now doing track. I'm not working out with him now, but I will be soon.
What pushed you toward track for the first time?
I wanted to get my 40 time down, and I heard Coach (Tony) Jones is a good coach.
You have a cannon for an arm. What's the farthest you've thrown, in a game or just for fun?
Umm, I guess about 50, 55 yards. In a game, there's no telling.
What are your goals for next year?
Of course, to get a scholarship to a major D-I school. I want to win counties and get to districts. Maybe get close to a state championship.
What are they keys to making such a leap after a 4-6 season?
Just our work ethic. We've had guys get down on themselves. We're going to have to work hard. I know it's not easy, but it's possible.
You mentioned wanting a Division I scholarship. What are your college aspirations?
I don't know what I'd want to major in, but I want to stay close to the sport. Maybe sports management or something like that.
Do you have any hidden talents?
Nope. I can't dance or sing.
Who's the jokester on the team?
Lasmir Mitchell and Darren Stephens.
What makes them funny?
He's always happy and cracking jokes (Stephens). He's just naturally a funny guy.
What tops your music playlist?
I listen to a lot of music. I don't have a particular one. It has to be hype, loud with a lot of bass in it to get me in my zone to play.
Lastly, what sport are you the absolute worst at?
Did you ever try it?
I actually played it with my cousin, Ebon (Proctor).