Quaker Valley football is off to its first 7-0 start in 34 years behind a high-power offense and an underrated defense.
With three games remaining in the regular season, the Quakers lead all Beaver Valley Conference teams with four league wins and are averaging a staggering 45 points per game.
Senior wide receiver Isaiah McNair has been a key component of the Quaker Valley offensive machine this season. A versatile scoring threat, McNair is tied for second on the team with eight total touchdowns and is third among all WPIAL Class 3A players with 25 receptions and 444 receiving yards.
“Isaiah is a huge weapon to have inside on the slot and outside on the receiver—he can do both,” quarterback Ricky Guss said. “He [Isaiah] gives us a bigger speed advantage over any team—he’s really fast and really quick.”
Although McNair primarily lines up flanking Guss, the Quakers are creative in getting the ball to their top wideout, using a variety of jet sweeps and designed run plays. He’s averaging more seven yards per carry and recorded his first rushing touchdown of the season last week in the team’s 42-14 win over Beaver Valley.
McNair is on pace to blow past his individual numbers from a year ago—34 receptions for 519 yards—and is not surprised by the Quakers’ start.
“It’s always great to be undefeated, but it’s great being undefeated and knowing you deserve it,” McNair said. “Our team definitely deserves it because of how hard we have worked in the offseason and during the season.”
Though a central figure on offense, McNair praised the offensive line for his individual performance, saying, “that’s the group everyone should be talking about.”
Since transferring from Ambridge following the 2015 season, McNair and Guss have worked tirelessly to build their on-field chemistry, despite Guss not taking over as the starting quarterback until this season.
“From the moment I came here, even though he [Guss] wasn’t the starting quarterback, we even worked throwing then, because we knew that’s what it was going to be,” McNair said.
The relationship between the quarterback and receiver paid immediate dividends for Quaker Valley. In the team’s Week 1 victory against McGuffey, Guss and McNair connected on touchdown passes of 10, 62, and 10 yards, as the Quakers cruised, 52-10.
Adept at creating separation from cornerbacks at the line of the scrimmage, McNair will face his biggest challenge yet when unbeaten Aliquippa visits Chuck Knox Field Friday evening. The Quips have not allowed an offensive touchdown through seven games and feature one of the area’s premiere defensive backs in Marlin Devonshire Jr. The 5-foot-11 receiver is excited to compete against one of the WPIAL’s best.
“I am definitely am, because having a challenge like that, that’s what I look forward, too,” McNair said. “It’s fun actually.”
McNair previously ran track at Ambridge, but chose not to participate last year and instead focused on 7-on-7 drills in preparation for his final season. The extra work began to pay off in the summer when Quaker Valley captured the 7-on-7 championship at the University of Toledo football camp. That momentum has carried over into the season, and schools at the next level are starting to take notice. McNair recently visited Pitt for the Panthers’ home game against Rice.
“They [Pitt] said they like how I play on offensive side of the ball,” McNair said. “They wanted me to get up there to get closer to the coaches.”
He’s also being recruited by Robert Morris, Richmond, and Clarion and has an offer from Edinboro. Should the Quakers make a deep playoff run, expect more schools to come calling.
McNair plans to run track this spring for Quaker Valley, but for right now his focus is on Aliquippa.
“It’s such a big game,” McNair said. “It’s going to be exciting and can’t come quick enough.”