McGirt steps in line at Patterson

October 01, 1993|By Steven Kivinski | Steven Kivinski,Contributing Writer

Junior quarterback Willie McGirt hadn't played a single down for Patterson's varsity football team when Clippers coach Roger Wrenn tapped him on the shoulder and offered him a prediction.

"I told him a long time ago, when he was the quarterback of our JV team, that he would be the next in a long line of great quarterbacks at Patterson High," said Wrenn, reflecting on that autumn day in 1991.

"We've had a lot of great quarterbacks at Patterson and I told him that he could be one, too, if he worked hard and came to practice with a purpose every day. You know, he's never missed a practice."

McGirt's performance thus far hasn't exactly been legendary, but the fruits of his dedication and hard labor have helped Patterson maintain its tradition of winning.

In four games this season -- all victories -- the 6-foot-3, 185-pounder has completed 33 of 53 passes for 405 yards and seven touchdowns.

McGirt threw three touchdown passes in the Clippers' opening 27-6 victory over Edmondson, added two more in last weekend's 49-20 rout of Southwestern, completed nine of 12 passes -- including a 22-yard touchdown -- in a 27-6 victory over Mervo and tossed the game-winning touchdown and two-point conversion in a 15-14 win over Walbrook.

"I expected big things from Willie and he's responded in a big way," said Wrenn. "In our system, we have intricate quarterback reads and we probably call as many audibles as any team in the area, but Willie is a bright kid who responds well to all the nuances."

McGirt's favorite target this season and last, when he threw for 1,175 yards and 12 touchdowns, is 5-9, 165-pound senior wide receiver Stacey Plater.

Plater, who led the Clippers last season with 34 catches for 629 yards and five touchdowns, already has hauled in 13 passes for 179 yards and five touchdowns and is Patterson's leading scorer with 36 points.

"Stacey is very elusive," said Wrenn, who gave Plater the nickname All-State because of the insurance company's slogan of being the "good-hands people." "He's the fastest guy on the team and he has outstanding hands. You put the ball near him and he will catch it."

Opposing quarterbacks have learned that lesson the hard way.

From free safety, Plater has intercepted one pass and deflected two others. He exhibited some of his blistering speed last week when he returned a punt 73 yards for a touchdown against Southwestern.

"Stacey knows how to reverse his field and he knows how to make people miss," said Wrenn. "He's very good in clutch situations and around the goal line."

McGirt, too, is aware of Plater's athleticism and is thankful for having such a trustworthy receiver.

"Stacey is a good receiver and I know if I get the ball to him he's going to do his part and catch it," said McGirt.

Plater said: "We try and keep each other focused. He's got a lot of responsibilities [as quarterback] and I just try to make him feel comfortable so he doesn't put too much pressure on himself. If he messes up, I tell him not to worry about it. The games are supposed to be fun and we're having a lot of it."

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