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Football: Marist’s offense in good hands with Jack Donegan

Marist quarterback Jack Donegan looks deliver pass during Richards 7-on-7 camp Saturday June 16 2012 District 218 ADM Fields Oak

Marist quarterback Jack Donegan looks to deliver a pass during the Richards 7-on-7 camp Saturday, June 16, 2012, at the District 218 ADM Fields in Oak Lawn. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 3, 2013 6:17AM



Jack Donegan always loved throwing a ball around.

It didn’t matter if it was a football or baseball, Jack and older brother Ryan often could be found playing catch near the house when they were children.

In fact, they still often play catch when time allows.

So it wasn’t a complete surprise when Jack attended his first practice with the Orland Pioneers as a first-grader, he was made quarterback.

Eleven years and thousands of throws later, Donegan, a senior at Marist, is one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the Southland. Through five games, he’s completed 109-of-169 passes for an area-leading 1,415 yards and 15 touchdowns.

He’s also humble, a rare attribute when it comes to the big man on campus status of signal-callers.

“I think it relates to our whole team, not just me,” Donegan said of his statistics. “Our (offensive) line and receivers are all doing a great job. It’s a fun offense. I love it.”

Having two of the area’s most-skilled receivers — Nic Weishar and Flynn Nagel — no doubt has helped Donegan’s numbers. Weishar will attend Notre Dame in fall 2014 and Nagel, a junior, has been offered football scholarships by Illinois, Indiana and Northern Illinois.

Donegan’s strong arm and ability to make quick, sound decisions fit in perfectly with Marist’s spread offense. Donegan’s biggest asset, though, might be his leadership skills.

“He has great physical skills and he’s a tremendous leader with a great work ethic,” Marist coach Pat Dunne said. “He just has a great demeanor. Whether it’s a big play or a negative play, Jack’s attitude doesn’t change.”

Being a leader is a responsibility that Donegan, who’s a big fan of Peyton Manning, takes seriously.

“I like being a leader,” Donegan said. “It’s one of the things I like most about being a quarterback. Your teammates look to you to provide energy and to stay focused. I know I have to make sure I have a positive energy on the field at all times.”

That positive attitude came in handy last season. For the first time in his career, Donegan found himself on the bench as a backup to two-year starter Ian Woodworth.

“It was tough at first, but having great teammates helped a lot,” said Donegan, a St. Michael School graduate. “It was the first time in my career I didn’t play. But I think it helped watching Ian and understanding reads. It’s all worked out.”

Donegan, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior, has yet to decide on a college, though he would prefer to play at a Division I program.

“That’ll solve itself at the end of the year,” he said.

Right now, his primary focus is on competing for the East Suburban Catholic title and making a deep playoff run. Marist dropped to 3-2 overall after suffering a 49-27 loss Friday to Joliet Catholic.

“We’re taking it week by week, but we want to win a conference championship and a state championship,” he said. “Those are our goals.”



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