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HS Football

Jeff Lougee draws from baseball experience to grow as Mechanicsburg quarterback

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Mechanicsburg vs. Boiling Springs Football 5

Mechanicsburg quarterback Jeff Lougee searches for an available teammate to throw the ball to during a Sept. 17 game against visiting Boiling Springs.

Ask him to man second base, third base, shortstop or anywhere in the outfield on the baseball diamond, check off another box.

You can add quarterbacking the Mechanicsburg football team to that growing list, too.

Lougee has played football since eighth grade. But playing quarterback for just his second year, his first at the varsity level, the Mechanicsburg sophomore has pestered opposing defenses with an arsenal that includes speed, vision and a rifle for an arm.

Lougee’s assets have helped steer the Wildcats to a 5-4 record, placing them on the verge of a District 3 Class 5A playoff berth. Entering the final week of the regular season, Mechanicsburg sits in 13th place in the power rankings, with the top 14 5A teams qualifying for the postseason.

“It’s been a very cool experience for me, especially meeting all the new seniors who played last year coming up,” Lougee said, “and just being around them and getting to learn from them as a teammate.”

Sports have been a consistent thread in Lougee’s 15 years of life, specifically baseball. It’s the sport he has played since kindergarten, started on the varsity team last spring as a freshman, and is committed to keep playing at Duke University after graduating high school.

He also played on the boys junior-varsity basketball team last winter.

While football didn’t enter the picture until two years ago, Lougee swiftly transferred his knowledge and competitive nature from the baseball field to the gridiron, with his weaponry of speed and arm strength fitting in well on the football field. He said reading defenses and absorbing offensive schemes were parts of the game he wants to develop.

Baseball also provides Lougee background for the mental aspects of football, he said. Having competed in 40 events on the PerfectGame circuit since 2016, Lougee understands how to cope with pressure and how to confront strict scrutiny.

“Being composed is something that I do really well,” Lougee said. “I think at the beginning of season, trying to get used to the atmosphere (of football) was completely different from anything that I’ve ever gone through, but I’ve sort of learned how to cope and relax and have fun.”

Mechanicsburg head coach Anthony Rose noted the progression Lougee made since filing under center in Week 1 against Carlisle.

Rose said Lougee embodies a bulk of traits similar to former Wildcat quarterback Micah Brubaker, the 2020 All-Sentinel Football Player of the Year, who guided the ‘Cats to a 9-1 record last fall.

“He’s reading the coverages much better. I think that was something he never really had to do at the freshman level,” Rose said, “but as you get up to the varsity level, that’s something you got to be able to recognize, the difference between man, cover two, cover three. He’s definitely improved in that area … So, overall, I think he’s grown incrementally, in every aspect of the game.”

Clay McAllister, Mechanicsburg’s quarterbacks coach and its head baseball coach for the last 16 seasons, has also been an integral part to Lougee’s development, helping him fine-tune his footwork, understand the dynamics of throwing the football and using his agility and vision to pick apart opposing defenses.

Lougee said McAllister’s counsel also stretches beyond the confines of the football field.

“I think it’s really nice being able to build a connection with him through multiple sports,” Lougee said, “and having his feedback translate from football to baseball and baseball to football — more on the mental side of things and learning his way of coaching and how it impacts me.

“[He’s taught me] how to be a good person, handle losing, handle winning and with just being a good teammate and being respectful to everyone around you.”

HS Football Highlights: Glenn Robinson scores 3 TDs for Mechanicsburg in win

Rose recognized the tandem’s connection, too. Whether it’s at practice, watching film or during a game Friday night, Rose said he sees Lougee consistently taking mental notes and asking McAllister questions to help improve his game.

“You can tell that him and Clay have a very close relationship with each other, they get along very well, and he knows what Clay expects of him and Clay knows what Jeffrey expects of himself,” Rose said, “and I think that dynamic, both of them are tireless workers and both of them want to do the best they can at all times, and I think that’s a huge part of their bond that they share together.”

The connectivity with McAllister helped Lougee build bonds with the entire offense, including the receivers, running backs and offensive linemen, who have all improved as the season progressed. Those bonds helped mold a three-game early season win streak from Week 2 through Week 4.

The ‘Cats added a pair of victories against Greencastle-Antrim and Susquehanna Township in weeks 7 and 8 before falling 21-20 in the final seconds to Waynesboro Friday. Mechanicsburg’s four losses this season all came against teams that are primed for postseason play — Carlisle, West Perry, undefeated Shippensburg and the Indians.

Mechanicsburg enters its most important test of the season Friday on the road against an East Pennsboro program that’s vying for a postseason bid in District 3 Class 4A. The Panthers entered the week holding the No. 12 spot in a contingent that grants 10 schools a playoff berth.

Lougee aims to drive Mechanicsburg to a third consecutive district postseason tournament.

“He’s always wanting to do the extra work,” Rose said of his quarterback, “even when it’s something he’s already pretty much refined and perfected, he still wants to continue to get better and will strive to get better. And I think that kind of attitude rubs off on his teammates as well. He’s kind of demonstrated what you need to do to take things to that next level, and he’s just an overall great kid and all the other guys gravitate around him. He’s definitely, like I said earlier, what you want to see in a leader.”

HS Football: Mechanicsburg rallies to defeat Red Land, and other notes from Friday

Win or lose Friday, Lougee knows he can close the book on this season having gathered an array of knowledge while laying the framework for a promising prep football career.

“How to be a better teammate, work with your team,” said Lougee, on what he can look back on after the season concludes, “because with football, it’s a team effort, even more so than baseball where you’re kind of hidden. You don’t have to be around those guys as much, but you have to really be connected to them in football, more so than any other sport.”

Christian Eby is a sports reporter for The Sentinel and cumberlink.com. You can contact him at ceby@cumberlink.com and follow him on Twitter at: @eby_sports

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