Dream Team Defensive Player of the Year: Wapakoneta’s Truesdale brought the hits

WAPAKONETA — The fans might have seen an unusual hand signal after a big play.

For Joey Truesdale and his Wapakoneta teammates, they saw a symbol of all their hard work and camaraderie paying dividends.

“During the week of Kenton, our homecoming game, our defense started doing a hand signal,” Truesdale said. “On the first drive of the game, I made a decent move on the left guard, and I got like an 8-yard sack on the quarterback. I just jumped up, and we all put our hands up in the sky, and we’d all just throw this up on the sideline, and all the defense did it. That’s a really special thing that stands out to me.”

That signal was sign language for “love you,” said Truesdale, a middle linebacker honored as The Lima News 2023 Dream Team Defensive Player of the Year.

“It was just kind of our thing, like our bond is so deep,” he said.

Truesdale, a 6-foot, 220-pound senior, was a dominant force on a dominant defense in 2023. He recorded 93 tackles, including 57 solo tackles, as well as 12 tackles for loss and three sacks as the Redskins went 10-3 and shared the Western Buckeye League championship. He also had two interceptions during the year. He even scored a defensive touchdown on a fumble recovery in the opener against Marion Local.

Those three losses were by a combined 10 points, showing just how competitive Truesdale and the Redskins were in 2023. He spent much of the offseason in the weight room, getting faster and stronger.

“When you look at Joey, one thing that stands out is his ‘physical-ness,’” said Travis Moyer, Wapakoneta’s head coach. “Obviously, that comes from a lot of work in the offseason. We’ve always changed our seniors to have their best year as a senior, and Joey had that for us this year.”

That was evident when you watched him play. Working from the middle of the field, he flew from sideline to sideline to make a play when the Redskins needed a big stop. He also made defensive adjustments, helping his teammates read the offense and move accordingly before the snap.

“He did exceptionally well for us this year and handled that responsibility,” Moyer said. “He helped our defense to be one of the top defenses not only in the Western Buckeye League but in the whole state.”

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Truesdale has grown with Wapakoneta’s program. He started as a water boy and ball boy 10 years ago before becoming a junior high player and moving into the high school ranks. He learned how to watch game film of his team to clean up the mistakes, as well as watching opponents’ films to learn their tendencies and tells.

He’s spent much of that time with his older brother, Wapakoneta defensive coordinator Nick Truesdale, watching and learning.

“It’s been a dream come true, to be honest with you,” coach Truesdale said. “In 10 years, he’s been on the sideline every single game since I’ve been coaching. It was something that we always looked forward to. He’s earned every single minute of playing time, every single award that he’s been recognized for. It’s been a true honor to coach, No. 1, my brother, and No. 2, such a great player.”

His sophomore year, the Wapakoneta defender started on the “edge” side of the defense at linebacker, or the narrower side of the field. He moved to the wider side of the field his junior year before switching to middle linebacker this year.

Along the way, he became the WBL co-defensive back of the year this year, along with a first-team all-Northwest District selection.

Truesdale said he’s received some interest from Division II colleges, but he’s still weighing his options. He wants to study exercise science or biology, with the ultimate goal of becoming a chiropractor. He shadowed Wapakoneta’s Dr. Eric West and felt his calling.

“It definitely checked the boxes that I wanted to do it,” the senior said. “It shows me that I can definitely help people out when they’re not feeling good with their backs. I can definitely help athletes out.”

Wapakoneta had some stellar defenders over the years, Moyer said, and Truesdale will be remembered among those elite defenders.

“He’s had a front-row seat to the best 10 years of the history of our program,” Moyer said. “That’s kind of cool when you see a waterboy turn out to be a three-year letterwinner. We’re proud of what he’s accomplished on the field, proud of what he’s accomplished off the field and are really eager to see what he does in the future.”


Read more about the 2023 Dream Team at LimaOhio.com/tag/dreamteam:

See the 2023 Lima News Dream Team, highlighting the best players from Allen County, northern Auglaize and southern Putnam County

Read about Carson Parker, the 2023 Dream Team Offensive Player of the Year

Read about Joey Truesdale, the 2023 Dream Team Defensive Player of the Year

Read about Bill Lawrence, the 2023 Dream Team Coach of the Year

Reach David Trinko at 567-242-0467 or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.