Josh Padley likely will never play another football game after Friday night’s Class 6 state championship game in the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

Josh Padley likely will never play another football game after Friday night’s Class 6 state championship game in the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.
The Blue Springs High School senior linebacker was a defensive standout in last Friday’s 35-5 victory over visiting DeSmet and will play his last game against defending state champion Hazelwood Central this Friday.
He doesn’t have any Rudy aspirations of walking on at some big-time Division I program and proving that he can play with the big boys.
“In fact,” Wildcats coach Kelly Donohoe said, “when we had our big bonfire and rally before we played Blue Springs South, we have some seniors get up and talk.
“And Josh was one of the players we had talk at the rally. I’ll never forget what he said. He talked about how he had just a few games left in his high school career, and that he was going to give it everything he had because he knew he didn’t have the size to play college ball.
“Yet he’s become one of our leaders on defense, and he’s 5-(foot)-9 and weighs 165 pounds. We have the kids vote for the top player in about nine different categories and he leads in four of them.
“And you see him in the hallway or cafeteria and can’t believe he plays football. But when he straps on the pads, he’s a tough son of a gun.”
Donohoe was conducting a film session during this 2008 season when he noticed one of his players taking notes.
Most high school football coaches are pleased when their players stay awake as the staff dissects an opposing offense, so Donohoe was impressed.
“The kid was Josh Padley,” Donohoe said. “He’s a real student of the game. He doesn’t fit that mold of the 6-2, 230-pounder who just runs over people. He’s a 5-9, 165-pounder who runs over people.
“In fact, he has my favorite defensive play of the year. It was last week against DeSmet and we had him go down in the three-point stance and he ducks under these two huge offensive linemen and just lights up their running back.
“I know that kid had to wonder what hit him.”
Padley still takes notes.
“Our coaches are the best,” Padley said after an early morning Wednesday practice session at Peve Stadium. “They have us so prepared. DeSmet didn’t run one play that caught us off guard.
“I watched so much film and took so many notes that I was ready for anything.”
Well, almost anything.
When defensive coordinator Tim Dade asked Padley to get down in that 3-point stance for one play, the youngster was a bit confused.
“I’d never gone out of a 3-point stance,” Padley said, grinning. “Look at me. Do I look like a guy who would be down in a three-point stance?”
The scheme was to rush Padley and fellow outside linebacker Jon Trocosso from the outside, to open things up inside for defensive linemen Drew Kerber and Jordan Chrisman.
“I got a 30-second lesson from Jordan and he just looked at me with this look like ‘You’re playing in a three-point stance?’ And he said, “Keep low.” I did, and the end result was pretty good.”
“Did you know that I use Josh Padley to inspire our freshmen?” asked Donohoe, as he prepared for a film study session. “He was a freshman B team guy – and look at him now. I don’t know if we’d be where we are today without Josh and those defensive guys. They have lit some people up this year.”
When the season began, Dade thought about using Padley in the secondary.
“When you coach high school kids, nothing is written in stone,” Dade said. “We saw what Josh was doing and we just kept moving him up. He came up from the secondary to an outside linebacker position and we’ve even had him rush off the line.
“He’s so smart, you can do just about anything with him. And you tell him to do something one time, and he picks it up.”
He’s also a favorite among his teammates.
“He’s a guy who always finds a way to beat you,” said Chrisman, who eats more for breakfast than Padley weighs. “He’s not very big, but he’s got a big heart and he’s stronger than heck. He can fight off a blocker and make a big tackle or run a guy down on the opposite side of the field.
“He lives in the weight room and went out for track to improve his speed. He might not be a player who gets a lot of headlines, but he’s the type of player who makes this a winning football team with a great defense.”
So often, players talk about seasons of firsts.
Padley talks about seasons of lasts.
“This will be my last game,” he said, sporting a sad smile. “This is my last week of practice. It’s my last week of film sessions. It’s my last time around these guys – and I love them like brothers.
“But we’re playing for the state championship, and that’s what all of us have dreamed about since we were old enough to know what football was all about. If you have to play a last game, what a way to go out.”