But there is a heightened sense of security among defenders when they know Wade is on the field. He’s described by his coaches as a player who exudes confidence in his abilities, making everyone around him play better.
“He’s a quiet leader on the team,” Allatoona coach Gary Varner said of Wade. “Kids look to him for leadership. He makes you feel good when he’s on your team.”
Having played football since he was 6 years old, Wade is a linebacker who is keen on stopping the run. Opposing tailbacks rarely escape through the middle before Wade wraps them up and puts them on the ground. He seldom misses a tackle, even when he is in the open field. Prior to Allatoona’s 20-19 upset victory in the second round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs over M.L. King, Wade led the Buccaneers with 119 tackles.
To Varner, the 5-foot-11, 200-pound Wade is that old-school linebacker that reminds him of the way NFL Hall of Famer Mike Singletary performed during his stories career with the Chicago Bears in the 1980’s.
“He’s got instincts for football,” Varner said. “He doesn’t miss. It’s very hard to run through his arms. He doesn’t miss many opportunities. He knows the game very well and he plays fast.”
Wade is also known to play hurt. In the first quarter of last year’s Class AAA first round playoff game against Franklin County, he got his thumb caught in someone’s facemask while making a play and shattered a bone. He didn’t think of it at first and continued to play with adrenaline serving as a pain-killer.
Then reality set in after he helped Allatoona beat Franklin County 47-21. The doctors put his hand in a cast and the Buccaneers went on to advance to the quarterfinals without him.
“I was so into that game, the adrenaline carried me through it,” Wade said. “I never had a broken hand before. I wanted to try to keep playing, but they told me to rest and let it heal.”
Now that he wears different gloves and padding, his hands are full strength.
While stopping the run is Wade’s forte, Wade had to play a different kind of game when he went up against M.L. King’s pass-happy offense last Friday. His job was blitzing the quarterback, and that was a learning experience.
“That was new to me,” Wade said. “It made me feel like I was a defensive lineman going after an offensive lineman. With me being small, that made it really tough.”
It didn’t take him long to adjust. Wade said he was in on a couple of sacks. And on the final play of the game, Wade pressured M.L. King quarterback Roland Rivers into making an incomplete pass to seal it for Allatoona.
Now Wade and the Allatoona defense are preparing for their state quarterfinal game against Whitewater. According to Wade, the Wildcats are a running football team, which means he’ll be back in his element.