After being a backup for two seasons Jack McCarty is prepared to take the reins at the Celtics starting quarterback (Submitted).
At 5-foot-9, 175 lbs, McNary quarterback Jack McCarty isn’t going to wow anyone with his physical presence. But, despite his stature, those that have seen the arm talent of the senior signal-caller know that McCarty can sling it with the best of them.
“Jack has gotten more and more athletic and his arm strength is impressive. He has great range downfield and throws the deep ball with great touch, but he can also throw a rifle when he needs to and he can read a defense pretty well,” McNary head coach Jeff Auvinen said.
McCarty admitted that being small gives him a chip on his shoulder, but he also believes that his lack of size has helped him develop a better competitive mentality.
“I really think being undersized gives me an edge. I have been one of the smaller kids ever since I was in third grade, so I am used to trying to prove myself. If I were six feet or over, I don’t know if I would be as good. My size forces me to have to work harder,” McCarty said.
Despite being a standout on the McNary JV team, McCarty has had to wait in the wings behind Erik Barker — a three-year starting quarterback for McNary who signed to play with the University of Montana last winter — for the last two years.
After the 2019 season ended, McCarty thought that he would finally get his chance to shine in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, had other plans.
“I’ve been training to be in this spot for a long time, but when COVID came I didn’t really know what was going to happen,” McCarty said.
With the season being in limbo, McCarty still wanted himself and his squad to be prepared, which is why the quarterback started organizing get-togethers at the field with his teammates.
“When all this went down he was organizing bringing kids to the field to do workouts and throw routes. He took that on himself,” Auvinen said. “He is the epitome of what we like as a student-athlete. He is a great kid, a great student and a great leader.”
McCarty knows that leadership is a natural quality of being a good quarterback, and he is embracing it to the best of his ability.
“Being a leader is something I am definitely taking pride in,” McCarty said. “I was just trying to remain optimistic and help get guys prepared and ready to go.”
Even when the OSAA announced in August that the fall football season would be delayed McCarty was still finding ways to improve and get repetitions. During the offseason, McCarty played on the Island Boy Camp (IBC) Gym Club squad during 7-on-7 weekend tournaments and even formed a McNary 7-on-7 team.
In their seven competitions, McCarty ended up leading McNary to a pair of tournament championships and Gym Club to four tourney titles.
“It was really fun because I always felt like I was playing in a championship game with either team,” McCarty said.
After months of voluntary workouts and 7-on-7, McCarty found out last month that he would indeed get an opportunity to be the starting quarterback for McNary when the Salem-Keizer School District announced that they would be opting-in for a partial season due to a change in COVID-19 guidance from the Governor’s office and Oregon Health Authority.
Despite there only being six games on the schedule with no playoffs and no spectators, McCarty is thankful for the gift of an opportunity.
“I just wanted whatever we could get. As long as we are getting full-contact, actual football, I will take it,” McCarty said.
“I’m glad he gets the chance to show what he can do,” Auvinen added.
Even though McCarty has taken only a few varsity snaps in his career, he is still generating interest from several local Division III schools, including Linfield and Pacific — he even got official offers from Lewis & Clark and Willamette. McCarty is hoping to garner even more collegiate interest after playing some meaningful varsity snaps.
“I really don’t have any varsity film to show schools right now, that’s one of the reasons getting to play this season is such a big deal,” McCarty said.
Auvinen is confident that, no matter how this season turns out, his quarterback will be ready for the next level.
“I think D3 is a great level for him. I believe he will be able to battle for a ton of playing time. There will be schools that would take him in a heartbeat after seeing him play this season,” Auvinen said.
As for this season, McCarty doesn’t have any lofty individual goals for himself, he’s just excited to be able to play varsity football.
“I would really like to go undefeated as a team, but I am not really worried about stats. I’m just glad that I get the chance to play,” McCarty said.