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Norcross relying on Wilber's leadership ability

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Norcross senior quarterback Joseph Wilber is hoping to lead the Blue Devils to a region championship this year.

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Norcross senior quarterback Joseph Wilber is hoping to lead the Blue Devils to a region championship this year.

Joseph Wilber sat on the couch in Norcross head coach Keith Maloof's office last week.

A stern look came over the quarterback's face as he studied a scouting report.

"Is No. 39 playing?" Wilber asked Norcross assistant Steven Sims.

Wilber nods at Sims' answer as he remained focused on the scouting report.

"He's always studying," Maloof said.

It's the little things like that off the field that have turned Wilber into one of the county's top quarterbacks.

The 6-foot, 175-pounder is coming off a junior season in which he threw for 1,580 yards and 17 touchdowns in his first year as a starter.

His biggest strength isn't his ability to hit a receiver on a slant route or scramble for a first down, but rather his leadership ability.

"His leadership skills (that's what stands out), what he does on and off the field," Maloof said. "Since his sophomore year, he's done a lot of things outside of the things we've asked him to do."

Wilber has been part of several leadership councils in Gwinnett, including the Gwinnett Student Leadership Team and IDEALS. He also helped start the Student Athlete Leadership Team at Norcross.

"He's done a lot of things outside of just being the quarterback to put him in this role to lead this team," Maloof said.

Wilber grew up in Norcross, donning the blue and silver since the fourth grade.

He grew up playing quarterback, learning the system more and more as he got older. He was the backup QB to Matt Poole as a sophomore and earned the starting role last summer.

"He was able to run the total offense," Maloof said. "From his sophomore year on, I knew he was athletic enough, he was skilled enough, he was smart enough to be able to run everything we do offensively."

That was evident in his first start. Wilber threw for 207 yards and one touchdown in the season-opening win over Dacula last year.

"Last year, I had expectations, but I didn't really know what to expect," Wilber said. "I was a first-time starter and kind of new to the whole varsity football. Now I have a better understanding of the speed of the game, the level of play and the level of competition."

Wilber turned in his best game against Collins Hill. With the Blue Devils down 21-7 at halftime and clinging to a playoff berth, Wilber threw three second-half touchdown to lead a comeback win.

"That was a turning point in our season to keep motivated and keep pushing through," Wilber said.

Norcross' season ended with a loss to Dacula in the first round of the playoffs last year.

"That was a lot of motivation. We feel like we were a better team," Wilber said. "We prepared mentally and physically to put ourselves in a better position. We're not going to let that happen again."

Norcross traveled to play state power Colquitt County in a scrimmage three weeks ago. It was only a three-quarter scrimmage with the starters, but Wilber led the game-winning scoring drive.

"We were going down there to make a statement," Wilber said. "South Georgia football is a big deal, so were pumped for that."

Wilber also shinned in last week's season opener against South Gwinnett, throwing for 142 yards and two TDs.

It's that kind of success Maloof hopes Wilber continues this season.

"It's his time to produce," Maloof said. "It's his time to lead this team to a region title and state title."