CLINTON, Tenn. (WATE) — Darell Keith had a problem. His starting quarterback went down early in his first season as the Dragons’ Head Coach. The next quarterback in line was a freshman, his son Josh, who had no experience at the varsity level.

“He was 135 pounds, five foot four, I felt like a horrible parent but we had nobody else at that time,” said Coach Keith. “I watched him get beat and battered. I’ve watched him grow as a man physically and mentally. It’s been the best blessing any man could ask for.”

“I stepped on, and it felt like I never stepped back off,” added Josh Keith.

That’s because Josh Keith hasn’t stepped off. From starting that first game as a freshman, to now a senior, Keith has stayed Clinton’s starter for the past four seasons. It’s a dream he’s had since the age of three.

“He said I’d like to be a quarterback. I said, ‘Well son, I don’t think you’re going to be very tall. I said that’s a very hard position.’ He said, ‘That’s what I’m going to play. I’m going to play quarterback.’”

The reigning region 3-5A quarterback of the year is not only playing, but will continue playing in college at UT Martin as part of just the three percent of high school football players to go Division I.

“My height, some people think of it as an issue and some people think of it as a chip on your shoulder,” said Josh. “But you know I never let that stop me from what I want to accomplish in life and what I want to do on the football field and off the football field. I’m just very grateful for what I am and what I have.”

He’s grateful for the lessons he’s learned from his coach, and dad, along the way.

“How to handle things, how to be poised, how to be a leader, mainly how to be a leader. How to lead men.”

Coach Keith said his son has also taught him a few life lessons.

“How to be a better dad, how to be a better husband, and how to be more loving and kind.”

But most importantly, they’re grateful for the time they’ve spent together.

“When I go off to college, I won’t be able to experience it again obviously because my dad won’t be coaching me,” said Josh. “I won’t be able to go to the house after a football game and talk about what I can do better from the game we just played. What I’ve been able to be blessed with these past three years and this last year, I’m very grateful and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”