By Steve Brand
McFadden says McCurty isn’t the fastest or the biggest or the most athletic linebacker, but he may very well be the toughest.
“He’s like Charles Barkley,” McFadden said of the slimmed-down 6-foot, 220-pound McCurty. “He’s incredibly tough. He’s also intelligent — he’s like a coach on the field. He’s the best basketball player in school, so he can do it all.”
He puts McCurty in the same category as another Titan, Tony Jefferson, a strong safety who starred at Oklahoma and currently plays for the NFL Baltimore Ravens.
That’s good company.
McCurty led the section with 206 tackles a year ago, 133 of which were solo. That’s an average of 10 solo and almost 16 a game counting assists.
Like any good teammate, he credits his defensive line.
“They would open the holes and I’d go through,” he explained, much like a running back giving his O-line some love. “The defense set it up and I finished a lot of times. It was especially fun to sack the quarterback because everyone is watching.”
McCurty played at 225 pounds a season ago, but he felt the punch he gained cost him a little speed, so this year he’ll start at 220.
FOOTBALL SEASON PREVIEWS
Pushed to give his goals, he split them into personal and team.
The personal, surprisingly, had fewer tackles — “just” 180 to hopefully lead the county again — but 15 sacks, three interceptions, six fumble recoveries and maybe, just maybe, his first touchdown.
“I don’t worry about scoring a touchdown,” he said matter-of-factly. “A sack is just as much fun as scoring a TD. There is no better feeling than laying out a ball carrier.”
McFadden will give McCurty a better chance for a TD since he’ll probably start at tight end.
As for the team goals, the senior is very serious.
“We want to get back into the playoffs and win a championship for the school,” he said. “It was very frustrating to come so close last year. Nobody voted for us (in the Top 10 poll), but we proved we belonged. Now we want to go undefeated — doesn’t everyone start the season wanting to be undefeated — and win the Open Division.”
The Titans (10-3) surprised by rolling into the section Division I title game a year ago where they slipped behind 20-0 and couldn’t catch up to El Camino, falling 20-10.
“We need to get back to where we were when we were expected to win every year,” said McCurty, who said the return of McFadden to the sidelines after a three-year hiatus will hasten that. “The year before last we were 2-9 — that’s not Eastlake.
“I think we can be very good this year. Before we were fighting to get back to where we were. Now, we know we can do it.”
The Titans will find out right away as they open at home against Torrey Pines. Clearly, North County opponents are the gauge since McCurty’s biggest disappointment was the loss to El Camino and the most exhilarating win came in the semifinals against Carlsbad.
Keep an eye on number 43, he might be more fun to watch than the offense.
Brand is a freelance writer.