On the football stage, McGirt is Patterson's option master

August 28, 1994|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Sun Staff Writer

If Patterson football coach Roger Wrenn wanted to make an instructional video on running an option play, he'd film senior quarterback Willie McGirt and make a bundle.

"Willie just has such subtle fakes, and he moves with ballerina-like grace. He'll hang on to the ball until the last possible instant, even take a hit, to make it work," said Wrenn. "And he has an accurate arm for over 55 or 60 yards. In the option, Willie just rises to the occasion -- and he does it with distinction."

McGirt's eye-popping numbers are a testament to that.

In two years, McGirt's 50 percent completion rate has led to 2,387 yards and 27 touchdown receptions. McGirt, who has rushed 72 times for 356 yards and four touchdowns, also is a threat to run out of the Clippers' option attack.

"The things you have to do in the option are drilled into my head. They've become so natural I can do them in my sleep," McGirt said.

"You just let the play develop. Read the guards or ride out the fullback. You can't really predetermine or think about anything before it happens or you might blow the play."

University of Maryland coach Mark Duffner watched McGirt at a recent camp, one that included 125 quarterbacks. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound McGirt, along with second-team All-Metro Dalawn Parrish (Howard), ranked among the top seven quarterbacks there.

"I met over 1,100 players and it was a great experience for me," said McGirt. "I thought I stood out pretty well."

McGirt completed 98 passes last year for 1,212 yards and 15 touchdowns, leading the Clippers to a 9-2 record, the City 4A league crown and a 4A state playoff berth. Though he ran the ball sparingly (29 times for 166 yards, three touchdowns), he executed at critical moments.

Take last year's come-from-behind, 14-6 victory over Lake Clifton, for example. In that game, McGirt scored the Clippers' second touchdown on an option play with nine minutes left after sticking the ball over the goal line before his knees touched the ground.

"McGirt's a strong kid. He gave us fits because he was so tough to bring down," said Lake Clifton coach David White. "His passing makes him doubly dangerous. He can hang on to the ball until the last minute, then release it."

His often undetectable inside maneuvers aren't bad, either, as last year's 15-8 victory over Forest Park indicated.

Running back Ryan Lewis might have been the game's standout after rushing for 219 of the Clippers' 297 yards and touchdowns of 71 and 74 yards. But Lewis' success was a direct result of McGirt's work.

The Clippers were pinned at their 29 just 48 seconds into the second period when Lewis took a delayed handoff from McGirt, burst off tackle on the misdirection play and disappeared upfield.

McGirt never saw the play develop: He was buried by several Lake Clifton defensemen who were completely fooled by his chicanery.

Five minutes later, Lewis scored again on a play that duped the Foresters.

On the snap, Lewis, standing five yards into the backfield, struck a bent-over pose. McGirt appeared at first to drop back for a pass before dishing another slick handoff to Lewis. The defensemen raced past Lewis to get McGirt.

Again, Lewis was gone.

"The hardest I've been hit was against City in a scrimmage," said McGirt. "But that's what you have to do sometimes."

As a sophomore, McGirt got a rude introduction to the starting role when projected starter Buddy Edmond, an All-Metro performer, transferred to Mount St. Joseph.

McGirt passed for 1,175 yards and 12 touchdowns, but not before enduring the worst game of his career -- a 34-0 loss to Dunbar.

"Willie was supposed to be learning the offense for the following season and then, boom, he's a starter," Wrenn said. "He played terribly against Dunbar the first time, but when he came back to help us beat Dunbar the second time for the league title, I knew we had a keeper."

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