Sitting at his locker readying for another day of football, defensive tackle Pat McHugh may be the smartest guy in the room. There’s no doubt he’s the toughest.
The 6-foot-1, 255-pound senior from Miller Place is the anchor of St. Anthony’s 4-3 defense. The Friars return home after a to face yet another big test. Yes, it’s homecoming. But the opponent? Not some cream puff; it’s archrival Chaminade.
Reigning CHSFL Class AAA champ in South Huntington.
Keeping the players focused and the defense in line falls to McHugh, a co-captain.
“I think he’s as smart as anyone we’ve ever had,” St. Anthony’s Coach said. “He just got offered by Yale.”
McHugh almost wasn’t a Friar. The prospect of attending St. Anthony’s instead of was first floated by his parents back when McHugh was in the seventh grade.
“I didn’t think much of it at first,” McHugh admitted. “But I started getting into the program and following the football games. I really liked it and decided to come here.”
While Miller Place is renown for badminton, even producing Olympians, St. Anthony’s is a football factory. McHugh made the right choice.
Yale and Columbia want McHugh. And with a 32 ACT score and 98 academic average, it’s clear why McHugh is leaning toward choosing an Ivy League education and going early decision.
“I really like the Ivy League,” McHugh said. “I like where it will take me in life. I want to use football to get somewhere in life.”
Right now that path has McHugh and the Friars headed down the path to another championship. McHugh is a three-year player and two-year starter. He was only the second junior captain in Reichert’s 25 seasons at the helm.
The Friars returned three of four starters up front, including defensive end Bryan Rhodes. The push up front has translated into ball-hawking safeties Durelle Napier and Tim Stackpole growing that much more effective.
McHugh is tied for second on the team with 35 tackles. He also has two sacks. Defensive Coordinator Joe Minucci called him a complete player.
“To go from run to pass is one of the hardest things you have to do as a D lineman,” said Minucci, himself a former defensive lineman who played in the Arena Football League. “He does a really good job with that.”
While McHugh is physical, he’s crafty too. Minucci said the defensive lineman knows how to make guys miss and get off blocks. He can use his hands well, not a skill most linemen possesses at the high school level.
It matters that former stars return to campus and help out the next generation. John-Kevin Dolce, a three-year DT at the University of Virginia from 2008-10, stopped by last week and offered McHugh some insight.
“It really is a help to have those guys come back and say a few things to you,” McHugh said.
If there's one player who has learned from the experience, it's McHugh. You'd expect nothing less from the brainy and brawny leader of the Friars.