For the last seven years, Glenbrook South’s Sean McDonagh was a quarterback.
In his first game at tight end on Aug. 29 against Prospect, the senior caught three passes. All were touchdowns, and the three second-half scores were integral to Glenbrook South’s season-opening 27-13 comeback win.
The touchdowns all came on virtually the same play, a play-action pass where senior quarterback Fitz Stadler found the 6-foot-4 McDonagh in the seam between the cornerback and safety. The last one occurred immediately after an interception by Titans senior linebacker Carlos Benitez. It gave Glenbrook South its first lead at 20-13.
“I just caught the ball,” McDonagh said. “Everybody else just set it up for me and our team did a great job.”
A quarterback since sixth grade, McDonagh was the starting quarterback two years ago on the Titans sophomore team, and last year he backed up Stadler on varsity.
During the summer, both McDonagh and coach Mike Noll thought a switch to tight end would be best for the team. Coincidentally, McDonagh had grown two inches, so he put on some weight and worked on his speed. He hit the weight room and got caught up on offense with game-like drills in practice. Since he already had knowledge of the passing game, tight end was a good fit.
“He’s got very good hands,” Noll said. “He’s a basketball player, he’s a good athlete. He was a quarterback, still is a quarterback. He’s going to be a valuable part of our passing game.”
Though he’s deft at catching passes, blocking is still a work in progress for McDonagh, who doubles as a backup quarterback. He said he’s never blocked before, and he’s always been upright during his athletic career — whether at quarterback or as a small forward on Glenbrook South’s basketball team. Coming out of a three-point stance is still foreign.
“It was a weird adjustment to try to play low the whole time because that’s the opposite of what I’ve always done,” McDonagh said.
McDonagh has worked with lineman coach Brian Whalen to use his length to his advantage on the line. While he’s getting blocking down, he’ll still be catching passes. He’s become another target for the Titans, along with senior wide receivers Chase Daniel, Austin Nowlin and Peter Pappas.
“It really spreads our passing game out and it’s just one more person for everybody to defend,” Stadler said of McDonagh’s emergence. “It works out very well.”