The backup quarterback on No. 1 Mount Carmel's 2012 Class 8A championship team was crucial to the Class 4A baseball title the Caravan won in the spring.
The backup quarterback on No. 2 Loyola's 2012 Catholic Blue championship team was the leading scorer on the Ramblers' title-winning lacrosse team.
Accomplished as they are, neither Marko Boricich nor Jack Penn has played a game in any sport that will garner as much attention as the one they spent the week preparing for.
Both first-year starting quarterbacks are, in a way, drawing from their experiences in other sports leading up to the No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown Saturday afternoon in Wilmette.
Penn and Boricich know what a championship game feels like, and they know this isn't one.
"It is easy to make it bigger than it is," Boricich said. "A lot of people do that and it messes them up. It is a big game for both of us. It's a good rivalry and it's a Catholic Blue game. But we just have to tone it down a notch. It's just a matter of the team that plays the best for 48 minutes will win."
"The attention is more than it has been the past five weeks, but we can't overhype it as a team," Penn said. "It is a big game, Mount Carmel is a big rival, but we have to keep our heads. It is just Week 6."
Six weeks is enough time to determine both quarterbacks are capable of taking their teams deep into the playoffs.
Earnest about keeping the focus on the team, neither was eager to talk about recruiting this week, but both are yet to commit to a sport, let alone a school.
The fitting leader of a Ramblers team that lacks the height Division I programs require, the 5-foot-11 Penn might stand to benefit from a good performance in the face of a Mount Carmel defensive line that includes Big Ten recruits Enoch Smith (Michigan State) and Steve Richardson (Minnesota).
Not being tall is about the only thing Penn has done wrong this season.
He's completed 83 of 139 pass attempts for 1,053 yards with 12 touchdowns and one interception. The senior also is Loyola's rushing leader with 325 yards and two touchdowns on 46 carries.
"I can't say it is unfair," Penn said. "It is the way it is. I've always been kind of short. I've grown since freshman year, thank god. I accepted it. I know that the quarterback everyone wants is 6-1 or 6-2. It is not going to bother me.
"I still don't have that figured out whether I'll play football or lacrosse in college. I love football and I love lacrosse. If something works out in either sport, I'll be open to it. I guess I have to wait and see."
Boricich, who threw a shutout in a Class 4A state semifinal in June, would have opportunities to pitch in college if he so chooses, but he said he's not ready to rule out football.
The strong-armed lefty is not a typical Mount Carmel option quarterback, but he's been effective in throwing for 417 yards, eight TDs and three interceptions on 29-for-48 passing and rushing for 181 yards and three scores on 33 carries.
He's not a home-run threat as a runner, but he was smart enough to see what was open and fast enough to run away from St. Rita defenders on a 66-yard gain in last week's 24-3 victory.
"That's what I tell people when they ask me how fast I am," he said. "I say, 'I'm fast enough.' "
The true measure of an option quarterback is the results of his split-second decisions, and Boricich is critical of some of the choices he's made.
There have been times when what his instincts say and his coaches tell him are at odds.
"The first three weeks it was me doing my own thing," Boricich said. "That is exactly what you don't do at Mount Carmel. Added up, our coaches have over 100 years of coaching experience. I was on the team last year, but on the first team coaches are in your ear on every play in practice. What I've learned is it's not about doing what you think is right. You just do what they say.
"There have been plays we watch on film where I thought I was right but it turned out everything the coaches are saying is what is actually happening."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun