Rising Comet Pat McQuaide leads team through victorious season

Patrick McQuaide during his freshman season. Photo taken by Doug Wolfe.

Patrick McQuaide during his freshman season. Photo taken by Doug Wolfe.

Nate Miller, Contributing Writer

Solon football has been a part of Pat McQuaide’s life for as long as he can remember. Successful season after successful season after successful season.

But the 2017 Solon football season was unlike most seasons in recent memory. The Comets’ final record was 5-5, finishing with a conference record of 3-4. By the end of the season, players and fans had given up on the team and showed this by even booing the team at games.  

What brought many fans into doubt and confusion initially was when, in the fourth game of the season, the freshman quarterback entered the football game versus conference foe Elyria. That game, Patrick (Pat) McQuaide rotated as quarterback with senior Jessie (JT) Caver while fellow senior quarterback Joe Cartellone spent his first full game on the sidelines.  

As McQuaide entered the game, he received some boos.

“Adults booing a child isn’t right. It wouldn’t be right if he weren’t my son,” said Coach McQuade.

Despite the quarterback change, the Comets came out of Elyria with a win by a score of 33-6.

“[Coach McQuaide and I] thought he gave us the best chance to win,” said Coach Voigt when he was asked why Pat was thrown into the rotation.

Pat McQuaide continued to play in the varsity games along with Caver and helped lead the Comets to a 5-1 record to start the season with wins over Strongsville and Brunswick.

“It sucked while it was happening, but then I started to ignore them,” said Pat McQuaide when asked about how the hecklers affected him.

The Comets finished the season with four consecutive losses, and there was buzz going around about Solon football. Many people would say that the freshman QB only played because he was the son of the head coach.

“I don’t care what people say. We evaluate practice and we evaluate games,” said Head Coach Jim McQuaide when asked what he’d say to those people.

McQuaide worked hard in the off season following his freshman year. He was slated to compete with rising senior Jimmy Casamento for the starting job this season. Casamento had proven he had a big arm last year, leading the JV team to a 9-1 record as a junior.

“The position coach has the power to determine who plays in which games as well as Coach McQuaide. Same would go for other positions,” Quarterbacks Coach Jake Voigt said when asked about who controls who plays in which games.

McQuaide knew to win over the coaches and players he was going to have to prove himself in practice, scrimmages and games.

The two quarterbacks split reps in all of the scrimmages, as well as the first two games of the season. By week three, McQuaide had won the job. He’d played well enough in his share of the first two games as well as practicing well enough for the coaches to decide that this was his team.The Comets were now 2-0 and were rolling. Solon hadn’t beat Stow for the past three years straight, dating back to the 2015 Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) State Playoffs when they met at InfoCision Stadium in Akron, Ohio. Pat McQuaide didn’t start the game the way he had hoped to, throwing an interception on Solon’s first offensive play of the game. After being down 14-0 early in the first quarter, McQuaide stepped up and led the Comets to 28 unanswered points to propel Solon to 3-0.

The biggest play of Pat McQuaide’s young career came in week eight against the number one team in the state, Mentor. The Comets had just come down and scored to bring the game to 28-27 in overtime and Coach McQuaide had elected to go for two, and for the game. As the play started, the snap was rolled across the cold wet turf. Pat McQuaide picked it up and rolled left and chucked up a prayer, towards the end zone, hoping for the best. It was caught in the back of the endzone by senior Nick Close and the celebration began.

The Comets finished the season with a final record of 8-3 and earned the right to a home first round playoff game. McQuaide completed 85 passes for 933 yards to go along with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions and was named All-District Honorable Mention as well as All-Greater Cleveland Conference honors.

With two seasons of varsity football under his belt, McQuaide is showing signs of promise for years to come.

“100 percent yes,” said Pat McQuaide when asked about if he thought playing during his freshman season helped him make this years team better.

McQuaide continues to work hard as the off season progresses in hopes to lead another Solon playoff run next season. He is also looking to earn a division one scholarship to play football after he’s done playing for the Comets.

McQuaide overcame an enormous amount of adversity and defied the odds against him. His drive and focus helped him on and off the field this past year, and he is looking forward to improving even more this winter.

The Comets are losing a decent amount of value going into next season on both sides of the ball. Four year starter and two-time All-Ohio defensive lineman Nate Leskovec graduates as well as seven other starters on the defense. But the leadership of McQuaide will definitely help win Solon some ball games. Pat, as well as the seniors on next years team, will have a big role to play in how the season goes. McQuaide enters next season as the outright starter for the first time in his career, seeking yet another playoff berth and a successful season.