COLUMBIANA-When Josh McDade moved to the Crestview school district in junior high he was assigned the position of tight end on the 8th grade football team. The quarterback was Collin Gilbert. Little did they know at the time what a potent combination they would become.
"We obviously don't throw very much in junior high, so it was tough to tell how good he (McDade) would be at tight end," Gilbert said.
Five years after first stepping on the field together, Gilbert-with his scrambling and throwing ability at quarterback-and McDade-with his athletic 6-2, 255-pound frame at tight end-overwhelmed opponents as seniors.
The duo spearheaded a Rebel offense that carried the program to its second regional championship appearance in three years. Now they will get to play a little more football together when they take the field as teammates in the 2014 Ohio High School Football Coaches Association's annual North-South Classic. The game-which touts itself as the nation's longest running high school football all-star game-is 4:30 p.m. on April 26 at Welcome Stadium in Dayton.
"Collin and I developed a lot of chemistry over the years both on and off the field," McDade said. "To know that I will be able to play in a game like this with him is a very good feeling."
The chemistry that McDade spoke of was developed as the two progressed into varsity starters. They hung out frequently off the field, competing hard in a variety of activities.
"Collin and I are always trying to one up each other at whatever we do," McDade said. "Whether it's Xbox are something else, we always have fun trying to beat each other."
The trust the two built up was vital to Crestview's success in 2013. The Rebels entered the year with Gilbert as the only returning skill player from a record-breaking 2012 unit. McDade, who had been switched to offensive tackle upon entering high school, moved back to tight end in order to provide a new dimension to the offense.
"Josh and I, along with the rest of the offense would gather in our free time during the summer and go through repetition after repetition to improve our timing," Gilbert said. "It got to the point where we were so in-sync I knew where he was going to be on the field before he got there. I think a lot of that had to do with how much we hung out together. We were on the same page a lot."
Gilbert and McDade are part of the North roster in the Div. IV-VII game. After graduation, Gilbert will be off to Mount Union where he hopes to compete at quarterback, while McDade will attend Iowa Western Community College. For now they are enjoying one more chance to play with each other.
"There was a togetherness with Josh and the rest of the guys on our team that is hard to describe unless you are a part of it," Gilbert said. "What I'll miss even more than the sport are all of the 5 a.m. lifting sessions and all of the summer workouts that we went through together."