When Willie McGirt was in Little League, nothing kept him from practice.
"I always told him the word 'can't' shouldn't be in his vocabulary," said his mother, Cheryl Broadnax. "I don't think he ever missed a practice. He'd get on his bicycle and just go."
McGirt's ride has taken him through a successful baseball career at Patterson and earned him a football scholarship to Virginia Tech to compete for a spot as quarterback.
His talents will be on display before an anticipated crowd of about 20,000 in tomorrow night's third annual Chesapeake Football Classic at the University of Maryland's Byrd Stadium. McGirt, 6 feet 3, 195 pounds, will be one of three quarterbacks for Team Maryland against Northern Virginia.
Each offense is required to pass 40 percent of the time, with only one running back. There can be no stunting and no unbalanced lines. The defense must play out of a 4-3 formation with its secondary covering man-to-man.
Under these conditions, Maryland's quarterback in the inaugural game, Jason Boseck of Pallotti, passed for 291 yards and two touchdowns. Last year DeMatha's John Thomas passed for 196 yards, including touchdowns of 77, 69 and 32 yards.
"I don't know whether I can do what the other guys did, but I want to throw the ball. They've put in some option and bootleg plays for me," said McGirt, who had 57 career touchdowns on 253-for-441 passing for 3,429 yards, and rushed 150 times for 1,363 yards in three seasons at Patterson.
"This is going to be a lot of fun, but I also hate losing, so there's some pressure," he said.
It can't surpass the pressure of McGirt's first game as a sophomore, when he was thrust into the starting role after All-Metro Buddy Edmond transferred to Mount St. Joseph. McGirt suffered the worst game of his career, a 34-0 loss to Dunbar.
As a senior, McGirt threw for 1,042 yards and ran for 1,007, earning second-team All-Metro and second-team All-State honors, and leading Patterson (11-1) to the 4A state semifinals and a No. 1 ranking for the first time in the school's history.
McGirt impressed Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer. His option style is similar to that of graduating senior Maurice DeShazo.
Still, McGirt expects to redshirt next season with the Hokies returning junior Jim Druckenmiller, last year's No. 2 man.
"I feel like I'm finally getting recognized for what I've worked so hard for," said McGirt. "And this game is a great way to finish off my high school career."