Despite tough year for Knights, versatile McDonald a target for college teams

Stratford senior Tyler McDonald, picked for the North-South All-Star game, has racked up 2,000 yards on offense for the Knights, who play Lexington tonight in the Big 16 playoffs.

He wanted a conference championship. But Stratford quarterback/running back/wide receiver Tyler McDonald will have to settle for a consolation prize: a spot on the South roster for next month's North-South All-Star game.

Like most of the youths who grow up in Goose Creek, McDonald realized the tradition of Stratford football, which included an unheard of 55-game conference winning streak, numerous region titles and deep runs into the Big 16 playoffs. But by the time McDonald got to be the big man on campus, the Knights' talent pool began to dry up.

McDonald posted more than 1,100 yards passing in the regular season as a junior last season, but the Knights posted a 6-6 record.

This year, he's passed for 1,048 yards, run for 750 yards and has 20 receptions for 227 yards. But the Knights have struggled with a 3-8 record entering tonight's playoff game at Lexington. This will be the Knights' first losing season since 1995.

"It's definitely disappointing," said McDonald, who doesn't find solace in statistics. "At Stratford, it's a tradition to play for the region championship every year. It's disappointing when you don't get what you worked so hard for since the summer."

Stratford coach Ray Stackley said McDonald has the ability to make opponents miss. He has the ability to make big plays, and that's why he has played multiple positions.

"If you look at his stats this year, he's accumulated 2,000 yards," Stackley said. "We knew he had to put up big numbers for us to stay in the ballgame. When he's playing well, we have a chance."

The most interesting move this year is Stackley's decision to play his quarterback at the wide receiver spot.

"This gives him the opportunity to play in even more space," Stackley said. "He's not coming out of the backfield on trick plays. He's lining up at wide receiver and is making big plays."

The development of young quarterbacks Chris Hanna and Clint Queen has allowed Stackley to use McDonald in a different playmaker role.

"Playing wide receiver gives you a lot more freedom," McDonald said. "You don't have to worry about everything that's going on there. It's just a matter of running good routes and having a good relationship with the quarterback."

McDonald said he was pleasantly surprised when he was picked to play in the North-South game.

"I wasn't expecting it," he said. "It was the one thing I was hoping for, but I wasn't counting on it."

Stackley said McDonald, as a 6-3 wide receiver, could open some eyes and recruiting doors during North-South Week.

"Right now, he's getting interest from Coastal Carolina, Charleston Southern and Gardner-Webb," Stackley said. "Once he gets into it at North-South, I'm sure the interest in him will pick up."