CHATSWORTH, Ga. — It was the kind of game football players only dream about, but try to get Ladd McConkey to talk about it and ... well, you would have a better shot of tackling the North Murray High School quarterback in the open field.
The senior, converted from receiver to fill a major need for the Mountaineers this season, has led his team to a 7-1 record overall and a 6-0 mark in GHSA Region 6-AAA. Along the way North Murray has ended Calhoun's state-record streak of region wins, and now a program that played its first full varsity season in 2010 is one victory away from clinching its first league championship.
However, what transpired on Oct. 11 will go down as one of the best individual performances in the history of northwest Georgia football. McConkey accounted for seven touchdowns in a 49-6 win over Coahulla Creek that night, but that's only part of the story.
He did so by scoring four ways. The 6-foot, 175-pound speedster threw two touchdown passes, rushed for two touchdowns, returned punts 84 and 76 yards for scores and had a pick-six on defense. Two weeks later, McConkey continues to deflect any personal praise.
"I just made a few big plays," he said. "I couldn't have done it without my teammates. They made it easy for me. They gave me room to run, to pass, and even on the punt returns they gave me an alley and all I had to do was run."
Then, in what is music to fourth-year Mountaineers coach Preston Poag's ears, his quarterback further displayed his leadership skills.
"It was a great game," he said. "With our team, the great thing is we have a bunch of players who can score that many in any game. We have a bunch of weapons, and nobody cares who gets the glory as long as we win."
The transition to quarterback hasn't been difficult for him. The son of former Dalton quarterback Benji McConkey and the younger brother to Hinton McConkey, who also played quarterback at North Murray, he has trained for this moment his whole life.
"Growing up I always played quarterback," McConkey said. "My freshman year I transferred to receiver, but I've always repped mechanics with my dad. It took a little bit of time to get back into the swing of things, but it wasn't hard."
The Coahulla Creek game may have earned him statewide recognition, but it was the win three weeks earlier he would rather talk about. North Murray's 31-7 win at Calhoun on Sept. 20, a year after putting a scare into the dynastic Yellow Jackets, culminated three-plus years of building under Poag — and it didn't surprise anyone on the winning team that night.
"It was awesome and our guys played their hearts out," said McConkey, who helped cement his team's position at the top of 6-AAA with a win at previously undefeated Haralson County last week. "We wanted it. It's always special going to their place, and to break a record like they had, it was just something I will never forget.
"We didn't plan the season around beating Calhoun. Our goals were to win the region and get a state championship, but we had to beat them to achieve those goals. There aren't many teams that have done what they've done. To go 18 years and not lose a single region game is really special. Our coaches told us to win this game it will be something you will remember the rest of our life."
There are, no doubt, more memories to come for McConkey and the Mountaineers.
They will at least host a first-round game when the Class AAA state playoffs start next month, and the quarterback is expected to be playing somewhere this time next season. His speed — he's been timed at 4.44 seconds in the 40-yard dash — and versatility have landed him nine collegiate offers, including from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, the Mocs' Southern Conference rivals Furman and Mercer and from Football Bowl Subdivision member Georgia Southern of the Sun Belt Conference.
Poag has no doubt — at whatever position he lands — McConkey will succeed in college football.
"I tell these guys he can play so many positions and he can play them well," he said. "Colleges are looking at him in all those positions, and he's going to make someone very happy."