With a disappointing record of 4-6, three-time defending D-V state champion
Youngstown Ursuline missed out on a trip to the postseason and a chance
to four-peat. First-year quarterback Chris Durkin, just a sophomore, wasn’t
particularly happy his team didn’t make it to a fifth-straight
With a disappointing record of 4-6, three-time defending state champion Youngstown Ursuline missed out on a trip to the postseason and a chance to four-peat.
First-year quarterback Chris Durkin, just a sophomore, wasn’t particularly happy his team didn’t make it to a fifth-straight state title game.
“In my eyes, yeah it was a disappointing season. A 4-6 record is not acceptable in an Ursuline Irish uniform,” Durkin said. “But it was a good learning experience for the talent that we’re going to be playing with again this year. We’re working hard in the weight room getting mentally prepared and physically prepared for next season.”
Although he shared some of the chores under center, Durkin was the heir-apparent at quarterback last season after a very successful four-year stint by Paul Kempe.
“I was a little disappointed in my performance. I believe I could have done a lot more,” Durkin said. “I think I could have worked a little harder and I think that would have benefited our team more. But I’m positive that I’m going to help our team bounce back this year.”
Of course, Ursuline will have to prove that they can do it without Dan Reardon running the show now. Reardon resigned his post after the season for personal reasons unrelated to the football program.
“It’s a little heartbreaking. We all looked up to him. He was a great coach, one of the best coaches I’ve ever had,” Durkin said. “He was a good guy, he loved all of us and he was there for us whenever we needed him. He was a really good coach, he knew what he was talking about and it’s hard to see him leave.”
Longtime assistant coach Larry Kempe, Paul’s father, is taking over the reins for the Irish.
“With Larry Kempe filling his shoes, I see us doing just as well with Coach Kempe as the head coach,” Durkin said. “I see us doing a lot better, we’re going to be a lot more disciplined this year.”
With three state championships in four consecutive appearances, the bar has obviously been set pretty high by Reardon at Ursuline.
“I think about a state championship every day,” Durkin said. “It breaks my heart that we couldn’t get there last year but I’m determined that we’re going to get there this year.”
Recruiting-wise, however, nothing much is going on for Durkin as he prepares to lead the Irish in his junior campaign.
“Nothing too serious is going on now,” Durkin said. “I’m going to visit a lot of camps this year. I’m already signed up for a couple. And I’m going to visit a bunch of combines also like the Nike combines and the Next Level combines.”
Although he has a solid favorite in his mind already, Durkin is open to any and all offers at this particular time.
“I don’t know, I’ll take whatever (offers are) given to me,” he said. “If I can get a nice scholarship to a good college, I’d take it in a heartbeat.”
Admittedly, however, at least going into the recruiting process Durkin is an unabashed Penn State fan.
“I’m a big Penn State fan,” Durkin said. “Ever since the first time I went to one of their games I just fell in love with Penn State, they’re my favorite school now.”
And he claims the current turmoil that they’re going through now hasn’t really changed his feelings yet.
“It’s changed the way I look at them a little bit but not much,” Durkin said. “They’re still my favorite school, I still love Penn State, and I’m still hoping things work out for the best.”
But he’s an Ohio State fan as well.
“Yeah, a little bit,” said Durkin who has never been to any game or any other official event at OSU. “I like what (Urban Meyer) did at Florida a lot and I see Ohio State doing very well under the leadership of Urban Meyer.”
No matter what school he eventually ends up after he goes through the recruiting process, Durkin definitely sees himself as a quarterback at the collegiate level.
“Yeah I believe I can be a quarterback at the next level if I do what I need to do, work hard in the weight room and look good on the field,” he said. “I think if I do those things I can make it to the next level as a quarterback.”
At 6-4 and 215 pounds with 4.7 speed (Next Level Combine) Durkin, who turns 17 on Feb. 15, thinks he fits more in the mold of a pro-style quarterback.
“I’m more pro-style but I’ve been working hard on my speed so I’m trying to become, not a big dual-threat, but I want to be able to move around in the pocket and escape defenders,” Durkin said. “I can run a little bit but I’m just trying to build my speed up, trying to bring my 40 time down a little bit and I think I’ll be set.”
Although the requisite size and pedigree are there, Durkin’s dad was a professional baseball player, the best word to describe Ursuline’s young signal caller just might be potential. He has plenty of it. And if Durkin has a big junior season, then so will the Irish.
“I plan on being our leader this year and doing everything we need to do to get back to state,” Durkin said. “As long as we’re all mentally prepared and I’m mentally prepared, I think we’ll be fine.”