It seems odd that someone who didn't play football as a junior in high school could be tagged the following preseason as having the potential to be "one of the best we've ever had here."
But that is the exact phrase Loudoun County Coach Pat McManus used in describing senior Pat McDonough, a starter on the Raiders' basketball and baseball teams last season and the school's new starting quarterback this year.
"I know that's saying a lot," McManus said. "But I really think football is going to end up being a very, very good sport for him. His athletic ability, his intelligence, his work ethic . . . all of those things point to that. He's already really picked up our offense, and he's very, very coachable. He corrects mistakes the first time, not the 19th time."
McDonough (6 feet 3, 190 pounds) isn't exactly a stranger to the program.
As a sophomore he was on the Raiders' junior varsity team, where he started three games at quarterback. Then he decided to take last season off in an effort to concentrate on his other two sports.
"It wasn't that I didn't like football. I guess I just wanted to take a quarter off sports since I've always played year-round," McDonough said.
"But then a couple of guys started asking me if I'd come out this year . . . and they finally convinced me."
Senior wide receiver Aaron Akers is the teammate McDonough said deserves the most credit for his return, continually encouraging McDonough during this past baseball season to give football another try.
"He came to me and said that he thought for his senior year he didn't want to miss the opportunity to play football," McManus said. "And I couldn't have been happier to hear that."
Though he is learning quickly, the year's absence has left McDonough slightly behind with his footwork in the passing game. He says he is working particularly hard to tighten up his play on the short passing routes.
While McManus said he won't rush McDonough's progression, he does anticipate throwing more this season.
"Patrick has the potential to be a real leader on this team," McManus said. "He's so quiet, he'll never be a rah-rah kind of guy. But he has great physical ability, and he's the kind of guy who will dive for that extra yard or make a block downfield, and the guys will respect him for that."
As for being one of the greatest in Raiders history, even if only for a season? McDonough says he welcomes that challenge.
"It's kind of shocking to hear him say that since I haven't had much experience in football," he said. "But I hope to prove him right."
Loudoun County at Loudoun Valley
Sept. 9, 7:30 p.m.
These rivals opted to continue playing despite the Vikings' move out of the AA Dulles District and into the AAA National. This game, no matter how it looks on paper, always ranks as one of the most emotional of the year.
This Season's Schedule
DateOpponentTimeSept.2Musselman7:30Sept. 9at Loudoun Valley7:30Sept. 16Rappahannock7:30Sept. 23Warren County7:30Sept. 30at Heritage7:30Oct. 14at Dominion7:30Oct. 21Potomac Falls*7:30Oct. 28Broad Run7:30Nov. 4at Park View7:30Nov. 11Heritage7:30*homecoming
Last Year's Results
DateOpponentResultSept. 3at MusselmanL, 38-27Sept. 21LibertyL, 60-7Sept. 25at FauquierL, 28-13Oct. 1DominionW, 33-7Oct. 8at Potomac FallsL, 27-21Oct. 15Stone BridgeL, 38-14Oct. 23at Broad RunW, 29-21Oct. 30Park ViewL, 37-0Nov. 5at HeritageL, 26-20Nov. 15Loudoun ValleyL, 21-7