All anyone needs to know about Peter McMurrer, as far as Centreville Coach Mike Skinner is concerned, can be learned by watching a video tape of last year's season-ending victory at Chantilly.
McMurrer, a senior linebacker, was in the middle of the pile on four consecutive defensive plays to thwart the Chargers in overtime. Then, on Centreville's second play in the extra session, McMurrer, who also plays fullback, plowed five yards into the end zone. It gave the Wildcats the win and a pleasant conclusion to what had been a difficult season for the perennial AAA Northern Region contenders.
McMurrer made 118 tackles last year, more than twice as many as any other Wildcat, to go with three interceptions and two sacks. And he posted those exceptional numbers despite playing alongside a half dozen Division I-caliber athletes.
"Peter is the best two-way player I've ever coached," Skinner said. "He was our defense last year. In that Chantilly game, he made every play that mattered."
Centreville's 16-10 victory over the Chargers provided McMurrer and the other returning Wildcats with some positive memories entering the offseason, considering what they had been through. Not only had the Wildcats lost three times, they were forced to forfeit their season-opening victory because of an administrative oversight that had allowed an ineligible player to compete. Centreville missed the playoffs for the first time since 1996.
"All that stuff that happened last year just made us more focused this summer," McMurrer said. "We dedicated ourselves to the offseason program. We worked harder than we ever had previously. We had everyone here."
McMurrer can feel and see the results of the weight training and dieting. He's still 5 feet 11, 230 pounds, but he's replaced fat with muscle -- and has also improved his aerobic conditioning.
McMurrer's dedication to working out isn't just for football. He has a 3.5 grade-point average and takes a full load of honors classes and hopes to attend the Naval Academy or West Point next year.
-- Tarik El-Bashir