By Tommy Keeler Jr.
BERRYVILLE -- Since his days playing in youth football league, Sean McDonald has always been a dual threat. There were years he would play at quarterback and other times he would be the running back. So it's no surprise that McDonald fits into Clarke County's single-wing offense perfectly.
The Clarke County junior was the quarterback last year for the team, and was also one of the top rushers on the team.
"Growing up always being part running back, part quarterback, I've always been prepared to run," McDonald said. "I feel like I'm a physical guy for a quarterback."
While McDonald enjoys running, he said he prefers to pass the ball. That's part of why he's worked extra hard in the offseason to become a better quarterback.
He's worked with former Sherando standout and current University of South Alabama quarterback Ross Metheny and former Milbrook standout Andrew Oates on his game.
"When I was working with Ross [Metheny] the biggest thing he said that got him through high school and college was that he had better footwork than everyone else," McDonald said. "So I really took that to heart and focused on the mechanics. A lot of little things that I didn't even realize I was doing last year, he was kind of touching up on."
This season his improved passing skills could come in very handy as the Eagles are going to be using multiple offenses. They plan to use the spread and the pistol along with the single wing.
McDonald said he's very excited for the offensive changes.
"As far as the spread and pistol goes, it's always difficult to put in a new system when we've been running the single wing for so long, but we're running it well," McDonald said. "We've got the right guys to do it, especially when you watch the NFL and you see guys like [Washington Redskins quarterback] Robert Griffin [III] run the pistol, and they just run it so perfectly. If we can even do it half as well as those guys, then I feel like we'll be set."
Much like RGIII is looking to be more of a passer this season, so is McDonald.
McDonald said he feels confident in all of his receivers, and said he worked hard to build chemistry with them in the offseason. His favorite target from last year -- Davey Hardesty -- graduated, but McDonald said he thinks it's a good thing that he doesn't have just one go-to guy.
McDonald said his father, who played at Loudoun Valley, has been a big influence on him. He said his father always encouraged him to play against older players to improve and get better.
That's part of the reason McDonald handled last year really well. He was moved up to varsity to become the starting quarterback as a sophomore.
"We threw him into the fire early," Clarke County coach Chris Parker said. "He did a great job. He's very dedicated and focused. Throws a good ball. When we ask him to run the ball, he obviously does it in the single wing. He can also block, too. He's got the whole package."
Last season McDonald ran for 680 yards on 113 attempts. He also threw for 961 yards on 48 for 117 passing. He threw eight touchdown passes and ran for five.
He also plays at safety on defense and had 20 tackles and two interceptions last year.
"It's kind of a leadership role on defense, too," McDonald said of playing safety. "It's fun. I like playing on both sides of the ball."
McDonald said he went to camps at JMU, Richmond, Shippensburg (Pa.), ODU and Towson this summer. He said he also got stronger, by working out in the weight room throughout the offseason.
With a year at quarterback under his belt, McDonald said he expects to be an even better leader for the team this season.
"Last year I was a leader on the team, but I didn't have as much influence as a whole," McDonald said. "But this year we got me, Josh [Dulaney] Andy [King], Buck [Bloomingdale] all of the big seniors. I have just as much voice as they do this year. Being a quarterback you have to have the strong voice, and I'm not afraid to tell people what we need to do to win, because you only have so many years of high school and if we waste time then it's gone."
Last year the Eagles went 6-4 in the regular season, but lost to Buckingham County in the first round of the playoffs.
McDonald said losing in the first round of the playoffs has become a habit that the Eagles want to break.
"It's definitely something that we want to get over," McDonald said. "We feel like that's a big monkey on our back -- to win that first playoff game. I feel like if there's any year we're going to do it, it's going to be this year. With us adding more passing, I feel like we'll have a better chance not only in our district, but in the region and in the state.
"We definitely want to get as far as we can, especially for the seniors, because this is their last year and they want to go out with a bang."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or email@example.com