WAVERLY – Whenever Brady Ramker jokes around during practice, you’d better make note of it.
It doesn’t happen often.
The Waverly-Shell Rock senior carries a humble, business-like demeanor when he’s on the football field – a mindset he has always had since he was a kid, thanks to the lessons he learned from his family. That same mindset has, in large part, led Ramker to the position he currently holds: Starting quarterback.
“He displays that humility throughout practice, and it rubs off on other players,” Go-Hawks head coach Mark Hubbard said. “And we think that that’s one of the key pieces to us playing as many younger players as we are, is that we’ve got a very got a very humble group of seniors, led by Brady.”
Ramker started at cornerback for the Go-Hawks as a junior last fall. He also took a few snaps at quarterback, even though he wasn’t the starter. But, in the back of his mind, becoming the starting quarterback was his goal entering his senior campaign.
He knew he would need to beat out the other competition for the job, and so he put in the extra work – whether it be in the weight room over the summer or getting some extra passes off to receivers on the practice field.
On Aug. 15, the Go-Hawks held their first intra-squad scrimmage. And Ramker made the most out of that moment. He commanded the huddle and was calm under duress, which caught the eye of Hubbard and his coaching staff.
“He’s pretty unflappable,” Hubbard said. “He doesn’t get too high or too low and does the things that we need to do within our offense.”
When Ramker found out he won the starting job, he was more than elated.
“I was excited that I finally got it,” he said. “Waiting all these years and playing quarterback and finally getting (to start) at the varsity level, I was excited for that.”
Now that Ramker is, in fact, W-SR’s starting quarterback, he remains humble. He’s the first one to credit his teammates before talking about himself.
“Brady’s just a guy that really does everything we ask him to do,” Hubbard added. “He’s such a team-first player. He’s the definition of a great teammate, and he just puts everybody ahead of himself.
“He’s one of the best team players we’ve probably ever had.”
Hubbard made sure to ease Ramker into the offense, rather than throwing the entire playbook at the first-year starter. So far, Ramker has responded well.
Through the first three games of the season, leads the Go-Hawks and is tied for second in Class 3A, District 3 with four rushing touchdowns. His 17 carries are the third-most on the Go-Hawks, who have rushed for 745 yards as a team thus far.
“He’s read the option really well,” Hubbard said. “He’s made some good decisions as to when to pull it down and run. He’s also been able to complete some key fourth-down conversions for us.”
During last week’s rain-soaked win over Waterloo East, Ramker converted two fourth-down passes in the second quarter – a 13-yard strike to junior tight end Layne McDonald and a 21-yard completion to sophomore running back Asa Newsom – to move the Go-Hawks inside Waterloo East’s 5-yard line. Ramker also had two rushing touchdowns that night.
“I feel like I definitely can get a lot better than I have been doing and playing even better,” Ramker said of his play. “I feel like throwing the ball could be a little better, just work on my balance. But I feel like I’ve improved a little bit in the run game.”
Entering Friday night’s game at defending Class 3A champion Western Dubuque (2-1), Ramker has completed 8 of 19 passes for 143 yards and is searching for his first touchdown pass for W-SR (2-1). He spends a good amount of time during practice sharpening his mechanics – from dropping back to pass, to his arm slot and reading the defense.
Hubbard said he plans to continue to open up the playbook for Ramker each week, which is something the quarterback is comfortable with.
“It’s helped me running it and throwing a few times a game, which is good, but not too much,” Ramker said.
Every year, Hubbard designates a select few of his players as captains for the season. Ramker is one of them this year, and, along with being the starting quarterback, he has approached his new responsibilities with the same humbleness and business-like mindset he used to win the starting job.
“I just try to bring the guys with me along the ride, keep them included, keep them invested in the game,” Ramker said. “When things go (bad) or adversity hits, just keep them up and try to lead them the best I can.”