HELENA — Helena High quarterback Ty McGurran, who missed most of his junior season at wide receiver due to injury, bounced back his senior year and helped lead the Bengals to a 9-3 record and berth in the Class AA playoff semifinals game.
McGurran’s season included tying Helena’s record for touchdown passes in a game, ended as the program’s No. 5 quarterback for season total offensive yards and completion percentage, and was capped off by an honorable mention all-state selection.
And now, Ty McGurran is the Independent Record’s 2018 All Area Football Offensive Player of the Year.
“Many of Ty’s best attributes come off the field,” said all-state teammate Zach Spiroff. “He is a very diligent teammate in the film room and during meetings. I could always count on him to make smart reads during the games because of his preparation throughout the week. That to me is very important as a quarterback."
Having replaced graduating all-stater Kaleb Winterburn (who now plays for Montana State), McGurran’s breakout effort took place in the second game of the season, when Helena stopped two-time state champion Billings Senior’s 27-game win streak.
“We had a lot of stars (that night), but I think our biggest key was our quarterback came to play AA football,” said first-year HHS coach Scott Evans of McGurran, who completed 10 of 18 passes for 172 yards with three TDs – two passing and one on the ground. “Ty did a hell of a job out there.”
Later in the year, McGurran’s record-tying performance came in a 57-14 rout over Billings Skyview at Vigilante Stadium. His five TD strikes went to Zach Spiroff (twice) for 12 and 7 yards, a 14-yard shovel pass to Logan Brown, Aidan Brus for 4 yards and 49-yard catch and run to Alex Johnson.
When asked afterwards how he felt about tying the record, McGurran answered, "I thought I only had four." He finished the night completing 14 of 17 passes for 154 yards, in addition to rushing for 63 yards.
McGurran shares the Bengals mark of five TD passes in a game with Benji Robinson (1990), Seth Jamison (1999) and Dawson Reardon (2012).
But arguably his most clutch performance came in a 20-17 crosstown triumph over Capital. McGurran fired two TD strikes to Hayden Ferguson, and then late in the third quarter and trailing 17-14, the Bengal signal-caller ripped off a 22-yard scamper to score what turned out to be the winning touchdown.
“Ty grew a lot throughout the year and was very influential in our success this season," Spiroff said.
In a 34-28 overtime win over Missoula Sentinel, McGurran passed for 258 yards. Among his other highlights were an 11 of 15 performance in a 56-14 win over Hellgate with two scoring tosses and a TD run; and two touchdowns in a 22-7 redemption victory over Glacier in the state quarterfinals.
For the year, McGurran completed 103 of 181 passes (57 percent) for 1,317 yards and 18 touchdowns, while gaining 860 yards rushing on 167 carries (5.2 yards) with six TDs. His completion percentage and passing TDs rank fifth and sixth, respectively, on Helena's season lists.
McGurran’s 2,177 total offensive yards were also the fifth-best in program history, while his 24 combined passing/rushing touchdowns sit at No. 8.
“This was a great ride, with a great group of guys,” McGurran selflessly texted, upon learning of his POY award. “I enjoyed playing with each and every one of them … definitely a group of buddies that will last a lifetime.”