• Homer quarterback pairs calm, steady presence with workhorse attitude
By Sean Pearson
Mariner senior Mark McGregor is a soft-spoken, unassuming, freckle-faced young man with a lot of heart and a fierce determination to give his very best to his brothers on Homer’s high school football team. He takes his role as quarterback very seriously, and looks to lead his Mariners to their second-consecutive trip to the State Championships at Chugiak.
“Mark is a complete leader who rolls with adversity,” said Homer Head Football Coach Camron Wyatt. “He models with respect, and is a truly funny and caring young man.”
McGregor and his teammates open post-season play this Friday in Juneau as they face off against the Thunder Mountain Falcons. If they continue to win, they will more than likely face a powerhouse squad from Soldotna in the State Championships.
McGregor took a little time from his busy school and practice schedule to share a few football thoughts with the Homer Tribune.
Homer Tribune: How long have you been playing football?
McGregor: I think this is my 11th year of football. I started playing Pop Warner when I was seven and never quit.
HT: What do you like best about the game? Why football over other sports?
McGregor: The feeling of being part of a team and working together is great, but mostly, I just really like that it’s an aggressive sport. There’s a lot of collision involved.
HT: You always seems to be dragging several defensive players behind you as you grind out those last few yards. What’s your secret?
McGregor: I think wrestling has really helped me with being able to stay on my feet and keep my balance. Other than that, it’s just a matter of keeping my legs moving and fighting my way upfield.
HT: At the beginning of the season, you racked up several hundred yards as a running back. Now you’re in at quarterback. Why the shift?
McGregor: We shifted things around offensively when we were missing a few guys. It seemed to work fairly well, so we’ve just kinda kept things as they are.
HT: Do you have a preference of positions?
McGregor: I really like the control that comes with being quarterback. I think I’m at that point in my high school career where I have the knowledge and experience to guide the team on the field.
HT: Obviously you have a very strong running game. Now that you’re in at QB, do you anticipate any increase in your passing game?
McGregor: We’ve been working on it a little in practice, but we’re pretty comfortable in our running game. It’s certainly where we are strongest on offense.
HT: You face Thunder Mountain on Friday in Juneau. What do you know about this year’s Falcons?
McGregor: They’re a bit of a mystery, because they beat Kodiak, who has a fairly strong team, but lost to Skyview in overtime. (Thunder Mountain is the only team the Panthers beat this year, and Homer solidly beat Skyview 28-14 in September.) We are trying to be ready for whatever comes at us, and we’re still just taking things one game at a time.
HT: If you think back to your freshman year of football, how different is it now as a senior?
McGregor: It’s really not that different. I had a lot of learning to do as a freshman and I was pretty scrawny. I’ve bulked up a bit since then, but the learning part never stops.
HT: You have a younger brother, Austin, who is a sophomore and plays a lot of JV. What advice can you give him about being successful in the game?
McGregor: I would definitely tell him to keep wrestling. I think the more sports you can do, the better. And keep lifting. It’s incredible how much your game can improve just by getting stronger.
HT: So … what’s it going to take to beat Soldotna this year?
McGregor: Rain. Lots and lots of rain and wind. If we can play relatively mistake-free football and find a way to stop their passing game, I think we’ll be in good shape.
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