CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — As an aspiring young quarterback in Kulpmont, Pa., Marcus Wasilewski was blessed to have a glowing example to follow in his hometown.
Wasilewski, who on Saturday makes his first collegiate start as the quarterback for the University of Maine, grew up watching one of Mount Carmel High School’s all-time greats.
His hero was Dave Shinskie, a talented multisport athlete who upheld the pride and gridiron tradition of the Red Tornadoes.
“Growing up as a younger kid, he was the guy I was coming behind,” said Wasilewski, who was six years behind Shinskie in school. “He was who you wanted to be like, who you wanted to play like; to get the records that he had.”
The two former Mount Carmel standouts both will be suited up Saturday at Alumni Field, where Shinskie and his Boston College teammates take on Wasilewski and the Black Bears.
Shinskie, a 6-foot-4-inch, 190-pound senior, is a backup quarterback for BC. The 28-year-old started 10 games for the Eagles in 2009 and three contests in 2010 before relinquishing the No. 1 job.
Shinskie graduated from Mount Carmel in 2003, but his college football career was delayed as he first pursued his baseball dreams. He was a fourth-round draft choice (118th overall) of the Minnesota Twins in 2003.
The righthanded pitcher played seven minor-league seasons, reaching the Class AA level, including a career-ending stint with the Eastern League’s New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
“He’s just that good, that he got a scholarship from BC,” Wasilewski offered after explaining Shinskie spent six years away from the game.
Wasilewski, like Shinskie, was a four-year starter at Mount Carmel. Yet it was the latter whose football exploits remain the talk of the town.
“His number’s retired at our high school,” Wasilewski said of Shinskie, who as a senior led the Red Tornadoes to a 15-0 record and a state title on the strength of 2,524 passing yards and 26 touchdowns
In 2008, Wasilewski passed for 2,192 yards and 8 touchdowns as a senior, guiding the team to a district championship.
On Saturday, the Wasilewskis and the Shinskies are expected to meet up at the Maine-BC game.
“[Kulpmont is] a small town. My dad (Mark) knows his dad (David),” Wasilewski said. “I think he’s actually offered my dad a parking pass up at Boston College.”
Wasilewski, who also played high school ball with one of Shinskie’s brothers, said he and David worked youth football camps together back in their hometown.
On Saturday, he hopes to make Kulpmont proud, and maybe take bragging rights from Shinskie, for once.
“I want to do it for my family, for my teammates,” Wasilewski said. “I want to do it for me.”