PERRYDALE — Josh Crawford’s final season of high school football was eventful, to say the least.
Before the season even began, Crawford, a senior at Perrydale High School, and the rest of the Pirates football team were told of head coach Steve Mabry’s cancer diagnosis.
He wasn’t sure what to think of the news.
“It was a bit of a shock. I didn’t know how to feel about it because I didn’t know how severe it was,” Crawford said. “And him being in treatment every so often made me realize it was very serious, and definitely helped me be motivated to work harder, because if our team did well, then that would motivate him to work harder and be more willing to fight for treatments, and it was like we were all battling together.”
Then, in the first game of the season, he was asked to step in as quarterback after an injury sidelined senior David Domes.
Crawford hadn’t played that position before.
“I was a little nervous, because I’d never done it before,” he said. “I tried out to be a quarterback when I was a sixth- grader, and, David and me being in the same class, he got it because he had been playing more than I had, and I was fine with that, because he was better at it and I was a good fit for the running back position. So, once I started getting comfortable with (the position), we started playing pretty good, and I was glad I could help the team out.”
He was in that position for four weeks.
Stepping in as quarterback so willingly is one of the reasons why Mabry selected Crawford as the Athlete of the Year for football.
He was also listed on the first team of the All-Conference League team for 1A schools.
“Josh was nails all during the season,” Mabry said. ”He comes off the field when David gets hurt, and we’re like, ‘we know you’ve never taken the snap, but you’re quarterback now. And he looks at me, and he goes ‘really?’ And I go,’ yep,’ and he goes, ‘OK.’ And so, he had a phenomenal year doing more than we asked him to do. Because he does great at running and he’s a good athlete, but going out and playing quarterback is a little different.”
For the season, Crawford rushed for 1,447 yards on 124 attempts; he passed for 365 yards on 26 attempts with 12 completions.
With it being his senior year, Crawford had big expectations going into the season.
“We knew we had a pretty talented team and a solid core of players,” Crawford said, “and we were hoping to get to playoffs and we accomplished that goal, thankfully.”
The Pirates made it through to the first round of playoffs for the first time in four years, going 8-2 overall and 4-1 in the Special District 1 North league.
Crawford said this season was for Mabry.
“He was our inspiration,” Crawford said. “And it also couldn’t have happened without the rest of the coaching staff, because they kept us on track and kept us going while (Mabry) was in treatment, but we always had him in our thoughts and worked hard to make sure he had motivation too.”
Football is a sport Crawford has loved since he was little. Watching professional football on TV is the reason he wanted to start playing when he entered middle school.
“I always watched football as a little kid … and when I was little I would learn all the players’ names and follow it all the time, and when I got to playing it, it was just like I was one of those guys I always watched on TV,” he said.
He doesn’t plan on giving it up yet, either.
Football and track and field are sports he wants to pursue in college. Pacific University is a school he’s looking at, as well as a couple others.
“I’m kind of just looking at schools that offer sports as well as a good education, and is also close to home,” Crawford said.
Whichever school he chooses, he’s looking forward to playing at a higher competition level.
“I’m excited for the competition because I’ve always worked hard, and having that competition to drive me even further is going to make me better,” he said.
Although he’s excited to move on to college, Crawford said he will miss playing for the Pirates.
“High school football was a big part of my life, so it’s bittersweet, but it was an exciting season and I have a ton of memories that I’ll always remember,” he said. “And my little brother being on the team, that will be fun to watch.”