MERELY PLAYING quarterback will prove to be enough of a challenge for La Salle High's Matt Magarity tomorrow.

But as the Explorers begin their first possession in a Class AAAA state semifinal vs. North Penn, set for noon at Northeast High's Charlie Martin Memorial Stadium, the 6-1, 200-pound senior would not mind - momentarily, of course - performing double duty as the offensive coordinator.

You see, Magarity needs just 3 passing yards to reach 3,000 for his career. And his preferred first pass would be . . .

"Probably one to Colin Buckley," he said, referring to the star senior wideout. "We've been together for so long. I started out throwing to him, and now it's ending up with him."

As a seventh-grader, Magarity was the part-time QB for a regional CYO squad based at St. Genevieve, in Flourtown. He achieved one-and-only status as an eighth-grader, then put in his time at La Salle before becoming a 2-year varsity starter.

His career numbers now show 209 completions in 385 attempts (54 percent) for 2,997 yards and 37 touchdowns.

Nice, but can he remember his very first pass?

"Pretty sure it was against Plymouth-Whitemarsh [in 2009]," Magarity said yesterday, before the Explorers practiced on the turf at that very same school.

It was.

"And I think I completed it," he said.

Right again.

"A little waggle pass out in the flat."

We don't have the film, but we'll trust him on that one.

Back then, Magarity had no idea he'd even emerge as a factor, let alone reach lofty heights.

His family's mark, after all, had been made in basketball, and that was still the sport that warmed Matt's heart, even though he'd left it behind.

"I always liked the team atmosphere of football," he said. "The way everyone had to come together. But basketball was my favorite because of all the improvisation. Now, I'm getting to do some of that in football because they let me call some audibles."

Looonnng-time followers of Catholic League sports will recognize the Magarity name in the basketball context. His uncle, Bill, was a starting guard for La Salle's 1963 champions and others (Greg, Joe, Mark, Jake) also played the sport. On another branch of the family tree, cousin Bill paced Cardinal Dougherty to the '70 crown and later became an all-timer in Sweden as a player and coach.

Matt's dad, Mike, a k a "Meek," favored cross country, however, and in '72 placed third overall while leading La Salle to - you got it - a CL title.

Under coach Drew Gordon, going back to his days as the offensive coordinator under Joe Colistra, La Salle has become the very definition of QB High.

And the significance is not lost on Magarity.

"Just the fact that I've been able to follow John Harrison ['08] and Drew Loughery ['10] is something I find to be astounding," he said.

Quick aside: Harrison passed for 5,810 yards and Loughery totaled 5,355. Those numbers rank 2-3 in city history behind the efforts of Gordon's son, Brett ('98), who racked up 6,837 and later became his dad's offensive coordinator. (Increased work responsibilities have caused him to yield to Joe Wade, uncle of star rusher Tim Wade.)

"Just looking back at their statistics is enough," Magarity continued. "But when I walk around school every day, I see their pictures everywhere and the references to the PCL titles they won. To even be mentioned in the same sentence with those guys is truly a special feeling.

"All the passing stuff here, it starts with the Gordons. I wouldn't be nearly the quarterback I am without them. Any skill you have, they hone it. They polish it. And now coach Wade is continuing that. The short passes I can make off quick reads? I can make those because I was made to rep it out SO many times."

Magarity, who now lives in Southampton and is being eyed by Franklin & Marshall, Harrison's alma mater, is hardly a one-trick pony. His GPA is 4.14.

"Nah, not at the top of the class," he said, smiling. "At La Salle we have guys with 4.5s. Phew, 4.5! I'll see those guys around school and say, 'Have fun with the books, boys. I'm going to lift some weights.' "

Magarity's other main talent is music. This spring, it's possible he'll sing lead for a band comprised of female buddies. And for going on 3 years now, he has dabbled in composing.

"I had to spend 3, 4 days in the hospital with a throat problem," he said. "I was bored out of my mind, so I started writing songs. Relaxing pop music, I guess you'd call it.

"I'd sung in the chorus as a kid. It was just an outlet. A way to express myself. Something to get my mind off football, a little."

Once Magarity was released from the hospital . . .

"I figured I'd go on Facebook and post some of the lyrics," he said, "Just to see what kind of response they'd get."

He laughed. "Oh, boy. Was that a bad idea."

Major busting of cubes, eh?

"Exactly."

Tomorrow, a classic is exactly what the fans can expect. At the same stage in last year's AAAA playoffs, Magarity passed for 180 yards and two TDs as La Salle prevailed, 38-35.

"It's always exciting to play North Penn. Always a good time," Magarity said. "The fact that we'll be playing them for the fourth time in 2 years [also season openers] just adds to it. These two programs have so much prestige.

"Now, it's like I know all their guys. And I've known [star rusher] Ralph Reeves since the eighth grade. We played on an all-star team together. He was the fullback. I was the quarterback."

And people are still singing Matt Magarity's praises.

Online high school coverage at philly.com/rally.