ATWATER — Joe Marquez thought he had played his last football game.
The Buhach Colony senior felt basketball was his future.
That all changed recently when he received and verbally accepted a scholarship offer from the Air Force Academy.
"I'm extremely excited," Marquez said. "I had gotten used to the idea that I had played my last football game. The fact that I get to compete again, that's crazy."
Marquez won't be making the trip to Colorado Springs, Colo., alone. Buhach Colony teammate Jayce Webster has also verbally committed to accept a scholarship to Air Force.
"The day I received the scholarship, I was having a bad day," said Webster, who plans to visit the Air Force campus with Marquez in March. "I was tired and sore. I wasn't feeling well. When I got the offer I was super ecstatic. It's something I've been waiting for."
Marquez and Webster helped lead Buhach Colony to a third straight Central California Conference and a third consecutive appearance in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 2 semifinals.
Marquez was named the CCC MVP after passing for 936 yards and 12 touchdowns to go a long with 428 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Marquez also intercepted eight passes on defense.
Air Force is recruiting Marquez as a slot receiver/athlete.
"I'm up for anything," Marquez said. "Wherever they want to put me."
Webster was an all-CCC defensive back with three interceptions. He was also a threat as a returner, including a streak of three consecutive games this year in which he returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
"I think they like my athletic ability, my grades and how I carry myself," Webster said. "They know I can be an Air Force guy. I'll be someone who will be respectful and respect other people."
Webster and Marquez were recruited by Air Force because of the job they did in the classroom and on the field.
"First and foremost these are two quality students," Buhach Colony head coach Kevin Swartwood said. "When colleges come by, the first thing all schools ask to see the transcripts nowadays. These two can handle the academic rigors they will have at Air Force.
"I think both guys will fit in there nicely."
It helps that they're not going to be alone.
"Jayce is one of my best friends," Marquez said. "I grew up with him. It's great to have someone so close to you go through the experience with you."