Posted August 27, 2010 | comments Leave a comment

Junior signal caller set to lead Yellow Jackets

R-MA junior Collin McCabe
R-MA junior Collin McCabe started the final five games at quarterback last year and enters this season No. 1 on the depth chart. Rich Cooley/Daily

By Jeff Nations - jnations@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- If Randolph-Macon Academy football coach Frank Sullivan harbored any doubts about his quarterback situation last year, a rain-soaked sophomore needed just over five minutes on a mud-splattered field to provide all the reassurance the coach needed.

Collin McCabe was that player last year during R-MA's homecoming game against Pope John Paul the Great. Trailing 18-6 with a little over five minutes to play, McCabe delivered a pass play of more than 20 yards to get the Yellow Jackets moving -- but a penalty negated the big play. No worries, as McCabe came through again to keep the drive alive with a long strike to Jason Manley down to the 1-yard line.

"The next play we scored, and then our defense forced a turnover," McCabe said. "Then we ran the ball a few times ... we ran an option play, I pitched it and Manley ended up running about 15 yards for a touchdown."

The Yellow Jackets won that game 19-18, and Sullivan knew right then and there that his quarterback position was in good hands.

"There were no excuses -- my hands are wet, the ball is cold -- he just went out and got the job done," Sullivan said. "That's what sort of caught our eye. Very calm kid, very sure of himself."

McCabe, now a junior firmly entrenched as R-MA's starting quarterback, first got his shot at the job after serving as the backup for the first half of last season. He started out running the Yellow Jackets' wing-T offense, and helped transition the team back to the I-formation during the season.

McCabe's passing numbers were nothing extraordinary -- he completed 12 of 27 attempts for 170 yards and a touchdown, and ran for another. Part of the modest production was the hybrid offense that still leaned heavily on the running game, and another issue was simply the weather. Besides that gully-washer against Pope John Paul, Sullivan said McCabe made two other starts in conditions akin to "a deluge" that forced the Yellow Jackets to take a conservative approach.

Sullivan expects those numbers will improve significantly this year as the Yellow Jackets go back to the I-formation full time, and incorporate a bit of spread philosophy as well.

"He's got a real live arm, surprisingly live arm for a kid his size," Sullivan said. "He was well-coached before he got here, and he's a kid who's going to put the work in."

For his part, McCabe won't miss running the wing-T this year. He found that offense difficult to master at first, especially during game conditions.

"Just mostly the footwork," McCabe said of the complications the wing-T presented last year. "You have to take the right steps on almost every play, the perfect steps. If you don't, you might run into somebody."

Standing just 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing 165 pounds, McCabe doesn't cut the figure of the statuesque quarterback surveying the field. But staying in the pocket and getting those short, quick passes into the hands of his receivers is where McCabe excels for R-MA.

"I'm not really much of a scrambler," McCabe said. "I kind of prefer to be in the pocket more."

And McCabe, originally from nearby Loudoun County, is dedicated to performing up to Sullivan's expectations. Over the summer, he recruited R-MA wide receiver John Park to accompany him to Trenton, N.J., for a camp focused on quarterbacks and wide receivers.

"He's one of our team leaders, leads by example -- sort of quiet," Sullivan said. "McCabe and Park are part of tour junior class -- those kids are very dedicated. They're a different breed -- sort of old school."



    Coach: Frank Sullivan (fourth year, 11-18)
    League: VISSA Division 2 independent
    Offense/Defense: I-formation/4-4
    Key returnees: QB/DB Collin McCabe, FB/SS Matthew Spearman, OL/LB Joseph Gillette, OL/DE Logan Usmani, WR/DB Seth Conner, OL/DL Nicholas Anderson, OL/DE Austin Hayes
    Key losses: RB/LB Nate Earp, RB/LB J.J. Kurpiel, RB/LB Jason Manley, OL/LB Michael Mosczczynski

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