How a Thursday night routine helped Nevada's James Edwards dominate in varsity debut at QB

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune

NEVADA, Ia. — Last Thursday night, James Edwards was getting ready to go to sleep when he sat down and started thinking about Friday's season opener for the Nevada high school football team.

Edwards was going to make his first start as the varsity quarterback for Nevada against Boone at Cub Stadium in Nevada.

"I like to sit and visualize stuff," Edwards said. "It just helps for when you (eventually) get into the game."

Whatever Edwards was picturing in his head Thursday night definitely helped when he stepped on the field Friday. Edwards accounted for five touchdowns and led Nevada to a decisive 48-7 victory.

"We've known that's in James for a long time," Nevada head coach Andrew Kleeman said following Friday's game. "We've always known if James is in the game he's going to give everything he's got. It didn't surprise me at all how well he played today."

More:Key takeaways from Ballard's season-opening loss to Bondurant-Farrar

Edwards admitted to having some pre-game jitters.

"I'm not going to lie, I was nervous to start the game," Edwards said. "Then I realized I just got to have fun. After that, everything just started flowing."

His confidence soared after scoring Nevada's first touchdown a little over four minutes into the game. 

James Edwards accounted for five touchdowns in his first varsity start at quarterback for Nevada Friday. Edwards led the Cubs to a 48-7 victory over Boone at Cub Stadium in Nevada.

A fumble recovery by Cael Franzen set up the Cubs with great field position and Edwards marched his team down to the 5-yard line. He powered the ball in from there to put the Cubs on the board.

The Cub quarterback was in complete control the rest of the way.

"I play so much better calm," Edwards said. "When I get too excited or too down on myself, everything just goes downhill."

Edwards added a beautiful 42-yard touchdown scamper later in the quarter. That gave Nevada a 21-0 lead and essentially broke the game open.

"After about 20 yards, I just started walking off the field," Nevada center Carter Hamilton said. "I knew he was going to make the play."

Edwards was extremely thankful for Hamilton and the rest of the Cub offensive line. Nevada returned three starters off last year's 6-3 team and they were able to open up plenty of holes to allow Edwards time to throw and abuse the Boone defense in the power running game.

"I did not get touched," Edwards said. "On the run plays, they were firing off the ball every play. They did really good today."

More:Davis era off to a great start: Key takeaways from Collins-Maxwell's victory over Wooward Academy

Edwards also showed off a good arm against Boone. He completed 8 of 11 passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns.

"He handles the pressure fine," Nevada receiver Caeden DaSilva said. "I wouldn't want to have any other quarterback."

Of course it helped to have an elite playmaker like DaSilva as a target. The 6-foot-3 senior with state-track speed made seven receptions and accounted for every single yard and touchdown Edwards threw for on the night.

"It's amazing," Edwards said. "You need a big shot and we come out in one play and throw it up to DaSilva. He's going to catch the ball."

The Boone game showed Edwards has what it takes to run a potent offense. And he's far from a finished product.

Nevada wide receiver Caeden DaSilva (13) celebrates with quarterback James Edwards after a touchdown against Boone during the first quarter of the Cubs' 48-7 victory over Toreadors at Cub Stadium in Nevada Friday, August 27, 2021, in Nevada, Iowa.

"That's just one start," Kleeman said. "He'll continue to get better and we're just excited to watch his growth."

But Boone is also a program still trying to find its footing after going just 1-16 the previous two seasons. So things won't come quite as easily for Edwards and the Cubs as they make their way through the 2021 schedule.

Edwards will have to prove himself against much tougher competition, starting this Friday when the Cubs travel to State Center to take on traditional powerhouse West Marshall. The Trojans rolled past South Tama in their opener last Friday, 45-6.

More:Takeaways from Roland-Story's season-opening loss to South Hamilton

"Confidence is a major factor in your success at the quarterback position and I've always been a pretty confident kid," Edwards said. "After throwing for three touchdowns and running for two, the nerves are gone and I can just go out there and have fun. West Marshall has always been a strong team and we will have to be able to fight the whole game. It will be a dogfight. It's a great rivalry game that the whole team is excited for."

Just before he goes to bed next Thursday, Edwards said he can only imagine one picture that will be going through his mind.

"I will be visualizing us winning," Edwards said. "Losing won't be an option."

 Nevada and West Marshall will kick off at 7:30 p.m. Friday.