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TOM WILLIAMS COLUMN: The OCHS QB Trio – Andrew, Harry & Ian

Since Ocean City High School started playing varsity football in 1919 many quarterbacks have directed the offense.

In the decades after World War II there was Andy Jernee, Joe Avis, Mike Varano, Bill Shallcross, Coke Hall, John Burch, Joe Kish and Bob Glaspey.

In the 1970s and 1980s there was Bob Foor, Jeff Foor, Dave Andrews, Bob Strange, Joe Myers, Greg Whelan, Alex Bromhead, David Miller, John Gunnels and Steve Leypoldt.

Since then the OCHS offense has been led by guys like Chris Bauer, Brian Tilley, Jared Bauer, Matt LeFever, Kevin McCann, Al Genz, Rick Henshaw, Jordan Torroni, Chris Curran, Matt Lombardi, Logan McGuigan, and Joe Keyes.

They each made their mark and some left behind school records.

But the last three seasons have been really special.

In 2016, Andrew Donoghue completed his career with more passes (541), completions (274) and yards (3,258) than any OCHS QB who came before him. He also threw for 349 yards in one game, also a school record.

After Donoghue graduated, Harry Pfeifle took over after missing his junior year with a knee injury. He passed for 635 yards but his contribution was with his legs. Pfeifle ran for 838 yards and 16 touchdowns, both school records by a quarterback in a season. Only six players in school history scored more points in a season than Pfeifle.

Ian Aungst, who backed up both Donoghue and Pfeifle, came into his senior year having thrown only eight passes in a varsity game. This year he has written himself into the record books like his two predecessors.

Aungst has 1,842 passing yards this year, breaking Curran’s school record. He has thrown 261 times, also erasing a Curran record. Going into Thursday’s game, he needs six completions to set another record and two TD passes to tie yet another record. And he has been extraordinarily consistent with a record nine straight games of 100 passing yards or more.

Donoghue and Pfeifle are not surprised by Aungst’s success.

“Ian had my back all year last year,” Pfeifle said. “I was confident he would be able to step in and do the job at any point in time. From the beginning of June, Ian and I studied the offense together. We would come in with corrections for each other trying to make everyone better. He pushed me through summer practices to be better. I knew Ian would have a great year because of the hard work he put in and his attention to coaching. Like I did, he also has a great group of athletes around him.”

“One thing that stood out to me about Ian,” Donoghue said, “was that he was always listening and absorbing as much information as he could. I remember whenever Coach Callahan and I would be having conversations during practice or on the sideline during games, he would always be there listening quietly to whatever we had to say. He also took practices and drills very seriously and was always asking how he could improve on his mechanics and improve his overall game. Clearly his dedication to being a better quarterback and the patience he’s had with the program has paid dividends and he has taken full advantage of this opportunity when he finally got the nod. I’m proud of his accomplishments.”

Coach Kevin Smith brings the three seasons into focus.

“Andrew had three years as a starter so he got to develop gradually,” he said. “But he also had to learn on the fly. He experienced his growth at the varsity level and his struggles were public. I think that toughened him up. Andrew got a lot tougher mentally over the three years.

“Harry got thrown into the quarterback spot in one year. Coming off an injury that kept him out his entire junior year we didn’t really know what to expect with Harry because we weren’t sure how he would react. But he was a great leader which made up for his lack of game experience at the position.

“Ian played behind those guys for two years so he did a lot of his learning in practice. Of the three, he was probably the most prepared his first year because of the experience of watching and learning. You see that experience paying off. He is so poised and composed simply because of all the snaps he took in practice and in JV games before becoming the varsity starter.

“All three of them were very good students and just smart guys to begin with. We could put a lot on their plate. Each year we seem to give our quarterbacks more and more to do.”

Aungst is modest about his accomplishments.

“It’s nice to have some recognition,” he says, “but I don’t look at it as an individual thing, more like a team record. I couldn’t have done any of this without our offensive line and the talent of our receivers. It makes me happy when I see the other team playing man-to-man on our receivers. Being behind the scenes the last two years I learned the offense inside and out. It gave me a chance to work on pocket presence, footwork, going through progressions, not forcing anything – all of the time I had the last two years to learn those things really helped. Andrew and Harry personally taught me how to lead a team by just watching them. They are both great leaders and really good people. The last two years gave me the chance to learn from Coach Cal without having the pressure of being in the game. All the while, I knew if I was patient my chance would come.”

Aungst will conclude his high school career on Thursday in Pleasantville and will leave behind a remarkable season. It will complete a memorable three years for OCHS football and its fans.

Andrew Donoghue, Harry Pfeifle and Ian Aungst – three special young men whose successes will live for a long time in the history of Ocean City High School sports.