John McSorley is willing to do whatever it takes to help the team.
McSorley is a junior on the La Salle High School football team, and he started out the season as a backup fullback and occasional running back, as well as the long snapper.
But as the season went on, the Explorers suffered some injuries to a key position. Three starting quarterbacks ended up on the injured list, and the team needed someone to step in and take snaps.
That’s when McSorley, who played quarterback growing up at Somerton and later Calvary, and again for the Explorers freshman team, stepped up.
“I wasn’t the backup, I wasn’t really considered a quarterback, I was a running back, mainly a backup,” said McSorley, who lives in Somerton. “I played freshman year, but the coach moved me to running back because I was more valuable, I could do more things there. I was fine with it.
“We needed a quarterback. My first game was JV against Prep, and it went pretty well, we won. I became the backup quarterback for the Wood game, then they asked me to play varsity after that, I started games against Roman, Judge, Judge and Prep. It went pretty well.”
McSorley is being quite modest.
His first game was a tough one, a setback to Roman.
Next up were back-to-back wins over the Crusaders, one in the regular season, another in the quarterfinals of the Catholic League 6A playoffs.
But his best performance might have come in a loss. The Explorers fell to St. Joe’s Prep in the PCL championship, but it was far different than the regular season matchup. The 40-11 setback La Salle suffered during the regular season wasn’t anything like the 21-13 loss it suffered in the championship game.
Prep has one of the top teams in the state, and La Salle hung tough with a fourth-string quarterback. But he didn’t play like one once he got inserted into the starting lineup, and he believes the momentum he picked up this year will only help him as he prepares for his senior year.
“I wasn’t shocked, the first game, we weren’t at full strength, we had so many injuries, not just quarterback,” said McSorley, who threw for one touchdown and ran for another in the loss to Prep. “We had one starting lineman, our running back was hurt. That wasn’t the game for us to win. I got in at running back, as part of the rotation, it was a tough game for all of us.”
It’s not easy to pick up any position on the fly, but quarterback is the hardest. It helped that the Explorers put in a new offense this year, so everyone did a lot of learning over the summer, but McSorley had to go from knowing where to run to running the offense. That required a lot of work.
“My coach did a great job of preparing me (for quarterback), I just stayed in the playbook the whole week,” McSorley said of his first start. “But once I was playing, I wasn’t nervous at all. I was just doing what we do, just playing. You don’t think about who you’re playing, you just try to stay calm and do what you’ve practiced.”
Playing prime-time games against elite competition will only help as he continues to grow as a player. Like many of his teammates, McSorley has started preparing for next season by hitting the weights hard. But the experience will definitely help, too.
“It definitely helped me, I think if I didn’t get this experience, I would still be questioning my love for the game,” said McSorley, who is open to playing quarterback, running back or any other position for his senior year. “I was kind of lost being a backup, you know, I can say I played. I’m proud of what you do. I know how good Prep is, it was fun. Playing in games like that will help me next year.”
McSorley’s goal is to see the Explorers once again be one of the top teams in the area.
This year’s playoffs were a great start.
He also showed the coaches at La Salle he can contribute. Get him on the field and good things happen.
“Just playing the position again was a lot of fun, I wasn’t sure if I ever would,” McSorley said. “It’s always been my favorite position to play, it’s being the star of the show. I honestly think I’m equally good thrower and runner. I think my coaches think I’m a better runner because I had a lot more carries than attempts, throwing, but I think I showed them that if they need me, I can play.”
On top of staying busy with football, he’ll also play CYO basketball, where just like in football, he can play just about anywhere.
And no matter what happens this winter or next year in football, McSorley will always know what it feels like to be the quarterback on one of the best teams in the area.
It was quite a ride.
“The best part was everyone congratulating me, that was fun,” McSorely said. “All my friends from the Northeast were proud of me. Seeing everyone, everyone was happy for me. They all know that I could have been doing this a long time ago.
“I was happy I played well, and I was happy for the seniors. All the seniors were proud of me because it was their last year and they wanted to go out strong. I think I helped them do it.”