Mooresville senior Patrick O'Brien likes to win at everything he does.
So when the quarterback's team went 0-11 his junior year, he had to learn to deal with not always coming out on top.
"That season was one of the worst feelings and times I've ever had to go through," said O'Brien, a three-year starter for the Blue Devils. "But I learned a lot. When you're 11-0, everybody's on top of the world, but when you're 0-11, you find out who's with you, who is a man and is going to keep fighting and who is going to go in the corner and quit."
After playing for three coaches in as many years, O'Brien and his Mooresville teammates found themselves, under coach Hal Capps, as one the most improved teams in the state, going 8-4 and making the postseason.
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O'Brien, who passed for 1,519 yards and 14 touchdowns, was one of the leaders on a team that challenged for the I-Meck title, finishing third in the conference and losing in a barnburner to Sun Valley in the first round of the 4A playoffs.
"Patrick was a big part of the success and improvement we had at Mooresville this year," said Capps. "I think he showed a lot of belief in himself and his coaching staff to keep working and keep playing through all of the change and struggle that they went through."
O'Brien's perseverance paid off as he not only earned All-I-Meck honors this year for his play, but also impressed college coaches in the process. Last week, he officially signed a full-scholarship to continuing playing football for Division II UNC Pembroke.
While many believe O'Brien has a Division I body and skills, the Mooresville senior says he is excited about the opportunity to be a Brave and compete for the starting quarterback job, which is up for grabs at this point.
"I'm a Brave now and I'm thrilled and lucky to be playing college football and going to school for free," said O'Brien. "I think UNC Pembroke is a program on the rise. I want to help make a name for Pembroke football in the next four years."
While O'Brien is excited about the future, he is also focusing on the present moment at Mooresville, where he is a starting forward on a Blue Devil basketball team that is looking to earn a playoff bid.
O'Brien, who averages seven points and four rebounds per game, says his value to the team can't always be measured in the box score.
"I'm not going to shoot a three-pointer or dunk on somebody," said O'Brien. "But I'm going to do all the dirty work inside, getting loose ball, extra rebounds and stick backs. That is what is in my blood and that is what I live for on the basketball floor."
He's also capable of leading the way for Mooresville. He's scored in double figures several times this year, including a 14-point performance at North Mecklenburg and 12 points in the win against rival Lake Norman last month.
O'Brien's aggressive and physical mentality extends from the football field to the basketball floor. Despite being a quarterback, the 6-foot-4, 190-pounder is known for hard hitting play and attitude.
"Patrick wears his emotions on his sleeve and that can be good and bad at times," said Tom O'Brien, Patrick's father. "He has always been a leader and kids have followed him. I think those traits will continue to help him."
O'Brien's next chapter will begin June 25, when he reports to the UNC Pembroke campus for preseason workouts as the Braves break in a new stadium and field house.
O'Brien says he is looking forward to joining his new "family" and seeing what the future holds.
"I had a great family here at Mooresville and that is the feeling I got when I visited Pembroke," he said. "I think my football career is just getting started, and hopefully my best football is ahead of me in the next four years."