By JOHN LIKANJE
BROCKPORT, N.Y. – Colin McCulley broke his collarbone during a preseason scrimmage and missed eight weeks of the 2019 campaign for Notre Dame Batavia. Two weeks removed from his injury, the sophomore quarterback received snaps with the starters during practice in preparation for the biggest game of his life: the New York State Far West Regional against Clymer/Sherman/Panama (CSP).
“We were going to try get Gabe (Macdonald) some touches and try to move him around a little bit,” Notre Dame coach Mikey Rapone explained on the switch at quarterback.
The Fighting Irish coaches wasted no time acclimating McCulley as he was thrust into the action from the jump as the starting quarterback. Macdonald slid to tailback as part of a run-and-gun tandem with Jedidiah Reese.
McCulley seemed to find his groove early as he found Cody Henry for a 15-yard gain on the Fighting Irish’s first possession of the contest.
The sophomore quarterback led a drive which resulted in Macdonald charging into the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown near the end of the second quarter.
Despite McCulley’s success early in the contest, the Fighting Irish struggled to catch up with CSP, playing from behind the entire game and finding themselves in a 33-8 hole after three quarters. However, McCulley wasn’t perturbed as he continued to make plays and rely on his coaches and teammates to be his guide.
“Our coach gave me the opportunity to throw and I’ve been working ever since I came back from my injury,” McCulley said. “Trying to throw and get the timing down with these players.”
In his first varsity start, McCulley completed 15-of-26 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown. The sophomore quarterback scrambled four times for 43 rushing yards as well.
“What I liked at the end of the game was that he was checking, he was calling audibles,” Rapone said about McCulley. “It was all the things we worked on in the summer and I think it took a little while to come back to him. Once it did, I’m very happy for what we have next year coming back at quarterback.”
Now that he has his first varsity start under his belt, McCulley is looking forward to carrying momentum into next season with the core of Henry, Mark Sanders, Jr. and Anthony Zambito.
“For next year, I want him to take what the defense gives him,” Rapone said about McCulley. “Tonight, he forced some throws downfield. Dump it off to your playmakers. A two-yard pass turns into 12 quickly when you got guys that can make some moves.”
The Notre Dame Batavia Fighting Irish finished the 2019 campaign with a 10-1 record and their seventh sectional title in program history.