Emmett Hunt's patience eventually was rewarded.
After spending two years as a backup to Manny Stocker, now at North Carolina State, Hunt took over as Coatesville's quarterback this season and led the Red Raiders to within a victory of their first state championship.
"He really took advantage of the one year he had," Coatesville coach Matt Ortega said matter-of-factly.
Looking nothing like a first-year starter and repeatedly coming up huge in crunch time, Hunt completed 157 of 247 passes (63.6 percent) for an area-best 3,113 yards and 44 touchdowns, with only four interceptions.
Spurred by his play, the Red Raiders went 13-3, claimed their first PIAA District 1 Class AAAA title in two decades, and advanced to the state final before losing to North Allegheny.
Of waiting behind Stocker, Hunt said, "It was tough at times. But it made me work as hard as I could to get ready for my senior season. I was anxious to show what I could do."
For his role in directing the program to new heights and galvanizing a blue-collar community, Hunt is The Inquirer's Southeastern Pennsylvania football player of the year.
"It was cool to see all my hard work pay off," he said.
In six playoff games, the 6-foot-2, 210-pounder hit on 72 of 107 throws (67.3 percent) for 1,248 yards and 19 TDs.
"He was a great leader and competitor," Ortega said. "In the big games, he came out and made the throws he had to make."
Soon after baseball ended in late May, Hunt, a third baseman and pitcher on the diamond, began working out regularly with his corps of speedy receivers, including Chris Jones, Dre Boggs, Vinnie Williams, and Farrell Boyd.
"We would go at it pretty hard," Hunt said. "[Cornerback] Daquan Worley and [strong safety] Isaiah Flamer would play defense in the drills. Those were some intense battles. It really helped us prepare for this year."
One of Hunt's best showings of the year came in a 35-34, last-second loss to Ches-Mont League National Conference rival Downingtown East in Week 4. He was 16 for 24 for 290 yards and five TDs.
Off the radar entering the season, Hunt is hearing from a number of colleges. Temple, Villanova, Massachusetts, Delaware State, Stony Brook, and Maine are among the possibilities.
"It's nice to be recognized," said the 18-year-old, an all-league punter as a junior. "I'm sure everything will play itself out."