Judge lineman ready to hammer home senior season

Judge senior Pat McShea will start both ways for Judge this year. CONTRIBUTED

Pat McShea was always a good football player.

But when he was entering Father Judge High School, he knew he had to take it up a notch.

So that’s exactly what he did.

McShea is a 6-foot-3, 230-pound offensive and defensive end for the Crusaders, and he knows what makes him such an asset to coach Frank McArdle. It’s his willingness to work hard, and he’s been doing that since he arrived at Judge.

“I played for the Little Quakers, so when I was in eighth grade, I knew I had to take it up a notch,” said McShea, who lives in Somerton. “Once I hit eighth grade, I realized how competitive high school football is and there were a lot of players who were much better than me. So I told my dad I had to start working hard, so I joined a gym. I joined a gym in seventh grade, but I started working out a lot harder in eighth grade.”

McShea has been growing since he entered high school, but last summer, he wasn’t just hitting the weights.

When the world shut down due to coronavirus, McShea couldn’t hit the gym, so he started hammering out different kinds of workouts. It was one he learned from his trainer Stephen Nejman, who doubles as a coach at Penn Charter, and the new exercise worked pretty well.

“I couldn’t lift too much, so I did some running at Somerton, and at home, I bought a tire and I would hit it with a sledgehammer,” McShea said. “It’s a good workout, I would be tired, and it’s a lot of fun. You’re not just staring at a wall and lifting weights, you’re doing something fun and it makes you stronger.

“This was (Nejman’s) idea, and I love it. It’s helped me a lot. I’m able to do it in my backyard and nobody can see me, so I just go out there and do it. It’s making me stronger.”

That’s the goal because McShea has big plans for his senior year. The Archdiocese originally nixed fall sports, but now they are giving it a go. That gives McShea one more go around.

And what he’ll be this year is a hard-nosed, two-way lineman who is ready to do whatever it takes to help the Crusaders improve.

Last year wasn’t a great year for the Crusaders. They won only a few games, but they had big wins over Archbishop Ryan and another over Lincoln on Thanksgiving, so McShea is hoping they can build off those triumphs, especially the one on Thanksgiving.

“That was a great game because it shows that we can come from behind,” McShea said. “We had a great game that day. It was a team win. We played together, and that helped us win. That’s how we have to win games.

“We were really young last year, but we’re going to be really young this year, too. We have to learn from each other. We had a lot of senior starters last year that we lost, but we had a lot of sophomores who played big for us. We’ll need them to keep getting better. I’ll try to be the leader that the seniors from last year were. I learned a lot from them, and hopefully the younger guys can learn from me.”

He has the attitude of a team leader, and he’s also a very good football player.

As a defensive end, he loves making big hits that can help change momentum. On offense, he doesn’t mind doing the grunt work that might go unnoticed, but can mean a lot to the outcome of games.

“I had a catch in the Turkey Bowl, it was on a fake,” said McShea, who had one catch on the season last year. “I’m more of a blocker. I wouldn’t mind catching passes, but I like blocking. Honestly, I’ll do whatever the team needs me to do. I just like playing and helping the team, especially when we win.”

He has that attitude in the classroom, too, where he ranks 18th in his senior class. He plans on using that brain in college, hopefully at a place where he can continue his football career, but that’s up in the air right now.

“I want to play college football, but a lot of the places I could play don’t have my major, so I’m still looking,” said McShea, who has a job stocking shelves at Acme during his free time. “I want to major in computer engineering. I took a class for computers in coding and I really liked it. So I want to do something in that field.

“I’ve always taken (academics) seriously. It started with my parents saying school comes first, but now I feel the same way. Grades are more important than anything.”

Even more important than football, but he still wants to go out on a high note.

“I think we can be a lot better this year because we got a lot of experience last year,” McShea said. “I think we learned a lot last year. We can have a good year. We haven’t worked together since March, so we have to get back together, but I think we can be really good.”