Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - September 27, 2012

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Stave's future? Start by looking at his past LUCAS AT LARGE MIKE LUCAS • UWBADGERS.COM F ormer Whitnall High School coach Rob Leboeuf never understood why his former quarterback Joel Stave didn't draw more recruiting traffic. Western Michigan was the only Division I school that offered. "It was really surprising and shocking to me,'' Leboeuf said. Pewaukee's J.J. Watt was in a similar predicament coming out of high school. The only recruiters who really showed any interest in Watt were from the Mid-American Conference. After one year at Cen- tral Michigan, where he was a tight end, Watt showed up at Wisconsin as a walk-on and developed into a marquee player, an All-American at defensive end. Watt earned a scholarship before he ever played in a game. Stave earned a scholarship before he ever started a game. "I'm not at all surprised,'' Leb- oeuf said. That's because he moni- tored Stave's growth over a six-year period, grades 7-12. "I talked to his parents when he was a freshman about coming up to play varsity,'' Leboeuf said. "I thought he could be a potential four-year starter.'' Upon further review, though, Leboeuf found himself on the same page with Karl and Barb Stave. "They agreed it would be best for his development to keep him with his friends,'' he said Stave wasn't "rushed'' to play and ended up being a two-year starter at Whitnall. "He has a very level head 16 » VARSITY SEPTEMBER 27, 2012 on his shoulders,'' Leboeuf said. "He doesn't let his highs get too high or his lows too low. He's very demanding of himself, however. He has very high expectations.'' Leboeuf alluded to the impact Stave's family has had on his work ethic and decision-making. "He's had a great support net- work,'' he said. Stave's older brother, Brian, is a senior at Wisconsin with a double- major in accounting and finance. His younger sister, Rachel, is a senior at Whitnall. Leboeuf didn't have any trouble sharing one of his fondest memo- ries. He had a flashback to Stave's junior year and a WIAA Division 2 playoff game between Whitnall and Lake Geneva Badger. "The weather was atrocious, the field was God-awful, and we were getting our butts kicked,'' said Le- boeuf, painfully remembering how Badger took a 28-0 lead early in the third quarter. On the sidelines, he looked at Stave and said, "We ain't done yet. You know we're not going to quit and I'm going to throw the ball on every down. We're going to fight our way back into this thing.'' Recalled Stave, "That was kind of his thing. No matter what the score is, you have to keep playing until the end. We scored one touchdown at the end of the third and four in the fourth quarter.'' Stave threw for nearly 300 yards and guided the offense to 35 points in the final 15 minutes. Whitnall still came up short and lost, 47-35, because the defense couldn't get enough stops. "But Joel was on fire, and damn near brought us back,'' Leboeuf said. There was another snapshot from that game that he hasn't for- gotten. "We were a senior dominant team and they were all in the locker room feeling bad about losing because their careers were over,'' he said. "And Joel apologized to the team for not getting it done. "Our kids said, 'Are you kidding us? We're the ones who let you down. We're sorry.' I'll remember that forever. I was so proud of our team that day by the way we re- sponded. "We were always undersized, outmatched and the smaller school. That type of thing. But we never quit no matter what the situation was, and he was always the leader behind that.'' Leboeuf doesn't believe Stave will quit improving now as Wisconsin's starting quarterback. "That's just the confidence I have in him be- cause of what I've been able to see him do,'' he said. Many more people are now in a position to see those same things. Leboeuf is confident that Stave won't disappoint. "He has the work ethic and desire to achieve his goals,'' he said, "and he always puts the team before himself. I couldn't be more proud of him.''

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