Passively standing on the sidelines isn't in Max Richey's nature.
Whether he's in the classroom, where he holds a 4.3 grade point average, or coaching powderpuff football, where he admits he got unreasonably mad when his team fell behind in a 2019 game, Richey is a self-described hyper-competitive person who enters most situations hoping "to show I'm the best."
He always planned to bring that intensity onto to the football field at Centennial High School.
A quarterback by trade, Richey spent three years sharpening his skills at the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La., where he learned under the guidance of instructors like Peyton Manning and Lamar Jackson, who've won a combined six NFL MVP awards.
But an opportunity to showcase his skills at the varsity level wouldn't materialize for years. Undersized at just 165 pounds going into his junior year, Richey still hadn't gotten a chance to start, spending 2018 as a backup to Kyle Connelly.
"There was some frustration there because I want to be the best at everything I do," Richey said. "I knew I had to wait my turn, but it was tough."
Richey says there were some notable positives from his junior season, where he developed a stronger sense of how to read defenses and decipher coverages. He also dedicated a lot of time to improving himself physically, adding more than 40 pounds of muscle entering his senior season.
And while the quarterback position was finally his to win, the transition to first string continued to be a difficult one.
Entering 2020, head coach Chad Brown was replaced by Richard Starrett, who brought in a defensive-minded gameplan. As a result, an offense that averaged nearly 200 yards through the air the season prior became more conservative in 2019.
As is often the case during coaching changes, Starrett's way of doing things was met with some resistance. Luckily, Starrett says he got a quick buy-in from Richey, and once his starting quarterback was on board, things began running smoothly.
"By creating a culture, I made sure there were some rules and regulations and things that were understood," Starrett said. "I needed some kids to be able to back me on that. And (Max) was one of the kids who bought in and when one of your seniors who’s going to be a quarterback (does that), it sure does make the process a lot easier.”
The season was far from perfect, as a four-game losing streak resulted in a disappointing 4-6 finish for the Golden Hawks.
And though his passing numbers (100-for-176, 1,292 yards) were modest, Richey did prove to be an efficient option under center, throwing 14 touchdown passes to just three interceptions. He was also able to make plays with his legs, rushing for a team-high 437 yards.
Despite entering the fray late in the game, Richey put enough on film to draw the interest of collegiate coaches and recently committed to continue his athletic career at George Fox University, an NCAA Division-III school in Newberg, Ore.
A 10.4 per-game scorer as a high school senior, Richey is also considering walking onto the basketball team at George Fox, but has yet to have serious talks with the coaching staff.
An aspiring physical therapist, Richey felt drawn to the school's exercise science and kinesiology department because it offered a graduate program in his desired field of study. He also took a shine to a multi-purpose offense he believes will make good use of his dual-threat abilities.
“Whoever their quarterback would be, they kind of fit it to them almost," he said. "If I were to start and play, I assume they’d incorporate running plays and the option and stuff like that.”
Back at the bottom of the depth chart, Richey will again have to bide his time before seeing the field. The Bruins not only return their starting quarterback in junior Jaden Sheffey, but will also bring in four other freshman signal callers to compete with Richey.
But years of waiting did little to crush Richey's confidence in the past, and he says he's eager to once again prove his value as a starting quarterback.
"All the waiting at Centennial made me want to work harder and harder," he said. "(College) is definitely going to be a big, big challenge for me and I'm going to have to prove myself again. But I feel like I ended up in the right place and I'm ready for the competition."