He rarely sees a play that doesn’t include two or sometimes three blockers come his way
By Joe Mason
When you hear the name Mark Maguire, you probably think of a huge hitter.
Sure, the name is spelled differently, but Mark McGwire was known for hitting those monster home runs while he was playing for the Oakland Athletics and the St. Louis Cardinals.
Maguire, a senior at Father Judge, might even hit harder than the baseball player. But instead of whacking balls out of the park, he’s drilling running backs on the football field.
“Everyone talks about McGwire, especially teachers,” Maguire said. “I just laugh at it.”
What he’s been doing on the football field is making ballcarriers do anything but giggle.
While patrolling the middle of the field for the Crusaders, Maguire is one of the fiercest football players in the Catholic League. And because of that, he rarely sees a play that doesn’t include two or sometimes three blockers come his way. It hasn’t hurt his production, but it’s certainly helped his teammates.
“I don’t mind the extra attention,” the Port Richmond native said. “When they’re doing that, it means other players are free to make tackles. It’s nice to know other teams try to figure out where I’m at to block me. But my teammates do a great job when I’m blocked. Then when they start making plays, it frees me up.”
Perhaps other Judge defenders are doing their jobs much better, or maybe Maguire is just a playmaker no matter how many guys are blocking him because there have been many games this season that he’s put up numbers that Lawrence Taylor in Tecmo Bowl would be envious of.
In an opening-night loss to Ridley, Maguire notched 12 tackles. He did the same in the Crusaders’ third game of the year, making 12 stops against Germantown Academy.
Other teams have taken notice, and so have his coaches.
“After the RIdley game, I wasn’t a captain at first, but then they made me one,” Maguire said proudly. “That’s a pretty important job. There’s four of us now, and we’re doing everything we can to help the younger guys.
“Not too long ago, when I was a sophomore, I was getting help from older guys. A lot of good players helped me get better, so I’m, we’re trying to do that. The young guys have so much to learn like all young kids do. We’re trying to all get better because we play so many tough teams.”
On Saturday night, Maguire was up to his old tricks, notching seven tackles and registering a game-winning sack with Dan Adams as the Crusaders held on to beat Salesianum, of Delaware, 21–20 at Northeast High School.
With the win, the Crusaders improved to 2–3 on the season, but things don’t get much easier. In the next three weeks, Judge squares off with La Salle, Archbishop Wood and St. Joe’s Prep. Prep and Wood won state championships a season ago and La Salle is loaded with talent, so a win against Salesianum was a big confidence builder heading into the teeth of their schedule.
“Last year, we had 22 seniors, so this year is definitely different, we don’t have that kind of experience, but the young guys are ready,” Maguire said. “I love playing the tough teams. That’s how you get better. And we’ll see what happens. I think we can play with anyone.”
As long as he’s playing with his friends, things are great.
As a freshman, Maguire went to Roman Catholic, and while he liked the school, he wanted to go to Judge because that’s where a lot of his friends went. He transferred and he couldn’t be happier.
“It was definitely the best decision I ever made,” Maguire said. “It’s not that I didn’t like Roman, but I love Judge. I love everything about it. I love the school, I love playing football there, my teammates, the coaches. There were pros and cons about it, but I’m really happy I did it.”
Maguire’s next decision is where he wants to play college ball.
He does, however, know what he’s going to study.
“I want to study sports medicine and become a trainer,” Maguire said. “I talked with trainer, and he said I should do it because it’s a great job. Plus, I want to be around sports.”
It’s also an important job. Maguire found that out last year.
“Last year, I missed two games, the Roman and Carroll game because I got a concussion,” said Maguire, who has scored two touchdowns at tight end this year. “I definitely wanted to play, but because I healed, I don’t get headaches or anything like that. They made sure I was better before I went out.”
This year he’s 100 percent healthy and he’s focused on making sure his teammates are ready for the tough games ahead. He’s optimistic.
“There are good teams, but we always play better in big games against tough teams,” Maguire said. “We know how good these teams are, but we’re going to play them and see what happens. I think we have a chance to beat anyone.”