So you want to be Dorsey? Well the first thing you should do is a lot of early morning prayer. This team is as balanced as they come. A stingy "D" with an experienced secondary and a frighteningly fast front 7. A senior quarterback throwing to receivers with soft hands and quick feet and two of the 10 best running backs in the state. That's right, not one, two backs. Stafon Johnson and Jeremiah Johnson. I can see the bumperstickers now, "Johnson & Johnson Inc. Producers of yardage and touchdowns."
Coach Paul Knox has his team firing on all cylinders, but the first two pistons to fire are always his two backs. "I treat those two like one featured back. Between the two of them I like to get 20 to 25 carries a game. If we do that they'll get us numbers," Knox told me Monday afternoon. And number they will get. Balanced numbers. How balanced? Last week Stafon finished with 156 yards on the ground. Jeremiah chipped in with 155. Truly a two headed monster in the backfield, and defenses get no time off as Knox runs them together about 80% of the time.
When asked to compare himself to a current NFL back Jeremiah says Ladanian Tomlinson is his boy and its not hard to see why. Powerful and compact, Jeremiah hits holes hard, and when he makes it through those holes he's not likely to stop. Ask Stafon to make the same comparison and he heads to the college ranks and Virginia Tech's Thomas Jones. Again these guys know their own game, much like Jones, the only thing harder than tackling Stafon is trying to catch him once he's past you.
Certainly the Johnsons are the focus point of Dorsey's offense, but ask them and the leader on the field is a no brainer. "Donald Price is like my big brother," says Stafon of Dorsey's senior quarterback. "He's the guy who settles everybody down and makes sure we're all executing," Jeremiah told me. Coach Knox went a step further. "On the field and off, Donald sets the example for this team. He works hard in the classroom, in practice, and during games."
That senior leadership comes in handy with such a young backfield (Jeremiah is a junior while sophomore Stafon is in his first year with the varsity), and as long as Price is throwing in the general direction of wide receiver David Gettis, there's a better than average change Gettis is going to come down with the ball. Knox explained, "Everybody keys on our backs, but we've got three or four bigtime playmakers on this squad, and David Gettis might be the biggest of them."
Against Carson Johnson and Johnson will be facing arguably the toughest front seven they've seen all year, but that doesn't seem to concern Knox. "We'll keep doing what we've been doing. They've been on a nice roll, but so have we." Knox seems to be the master of the understatement. Dorsey's "nice roll" has thus far been an undefeated season. "Carson does a nice job with play action, and that's something we've been showing our guys on film. It's something we haven't seen a lot of, but that's where the experience of our secondary can really help us."
Dorsey is certainly not looking past Carson this week. In fact it took some work to get Stafon and Jeremiah to answer my last question, but once I finally got them to tell me, it was pretty obvious they knew whom they wanted if they advanced to the next round.
"Venice is ranked #1, you always want to beat #1." Jeremiah stated.
Stafon was a little more blunt. "There's been a lot of talk," Stafon said. "I just want to settle this on the field. I want Venice."
A squad almost evenly divided between juniors and seniors. An experienced solid secondary and an ultra quick, aggressive set of D-linemen and linebackers. Two interchangeable backs capable of carrying the team and a senior quarterback with an All-State caliber receiver. A coach who knows what to watch out for but has confidence in his scheme. This is the very definition of a balanced squad.
Carson might want to try prayer after lunch too.