Why Dorman is the Most Hated Team in Cyberspace

Our newest staff member returns with his first article for SC Pigskin Prep. Earl's article marks the return to the web of one of the true gentlemen of HS football and a pioneer in the field of highs school sports web coverage. Earl was the original publisher of Palmetto Preps. His first article for SCPP is a look at how one certain team is perceived from the outside.

Until two years ago, most true football fans probably looked at Dorman like most fans of college football look at Marshall or the University of South Carolina as of late. When Dorman went to the state finals in the mid 90's after posting a losing record the year before, they were the darlings of championship weekend. Here Dorman was, a team that never had anything to cheer about in football-no conference titles, no trips to the state game, playing against what was clearly the best program in the state at the time. Dorman was obviously the underdog despite only losing one game during the regular season…to Spartanburg on a last second Hail Mary. In the state finals, they lost after being shut down on the goal line with the clock expiring.

The next year, Dorman fell back to mediocrity and the order of football was once again restored…TEMPORARILY!

Reason # 1- IT IS PERCEIVED THAT DORMAN FANS ARE FAIRWEATHER FANS.

Let's face it, Dorman had long been considered as the team that did not belong. The academic school with 2500 mall rats and preppies that could win in everything but what counted the most…FOOTBALL. The fans showed up for the home games but many of them were gone by the third quarter. Most of them had to get up early so they could go watch a Band competition the next morning. Sad but true…Dorman sucked and I would be the first to admit it.

In 2002, I'm sure Dorman fans will load up into stadiums on the road just as they have over the past couple of years. But, in 1992, a visiting Dorman on your schedule hardly meant big numbers at the gate. If Dorman was to go back into a slump (highly unlikely with this year's schedule), will the fans still come?

Reason # 2- MANY TEAMS FEEL LIKE DORMAN HAS NOT BEEN GOOD ENOUGH LONG ENOUGH TO BE CONSIDERED THE FOOTBALL POWER THAT THEIR FANS PROCLAIM TO BE.

Dorman won the last two Region II-AAAA (2000, 2001) titles before the region was dismantled. How many had they won prior to that?…0! What a way to start the new millennium. If fans of other AAAA programs that do not even have Dorman on their schedule dislike Dorman, imagine what teams like Byrnes, Rock Hill, Spartanburg, Northwestern, and especially Gaffney must feel. Losing in that Region happens but losing to Dorman seems to be the toughest pill to take.

Believe it or not…over the past four years, which I think is the time table that a team should be judged by, Dorman is averaging 11.75 wins and 2.75 losses including two region crowns, one state title, one state runner-up trophy, and three wins over Spartan High.

Spartanburg has lost three in a row to Dorman. Before the mid-90's, the chances of Dorman beating Spartanburg was about the same as Dorman sending a player to the NFL. I guess things have really changed over the last couple of years.

One of the players from Spartanburg told me that he was real happy about winning the state but he still can't believe that he played varsity for two years and never beat Dorman. Well, I can't believe it either. Dorman and Spartanburg have always been rivals by name but the game has meant little until recent years. Spartanburg players and coaches hate to lose and they definitely don't like playing second fiddle to that team up the street…Dorman

Rock Hill seemed destined for greatness two years ago but they simply could not get around Dorman. In a year when it seemed that the Bearcats had all the pieces put together, their state title hopes were dashed by a Cavalier team that started a first year QB and really didn't have the superstars that you would expect from a team that went undefeated in Region II-AAAA.

The first time Rock Hill and Dorman played in 2000, many Bearcat fans felt they were cheated. The second time around it just seems like the Cavs had the more talented team…BUT THEY DIDN'T. Rock Hill was loaded that year and Dorman; many publications had them picked to come in fourth in the region not winning the double-edged sword (Region and State).

Northwestern Trojans. Not much to say here. They are the only team from Region II-AAAA to beat Dorman in the past two years and they did it twice. Last season, the Cavaliers suffered one region loss…NW. The Trojans also sent Dorman home from the playoffs. The problem here is that during the playoff game, the weather conditions kind of reminded me of Hurricane Hugo. The rain was terrible. You could barely see.

After the game, message boards were lit up by posts of how Dorman would have won had it not been raining and how in this case, the best team did not win. My problem is this…both teams played in the conditions and NW won the regular season matchup. Face it, the NW defense was great in 2001 and that was in any type of weather. I think NW showed they belonged in the state game right up until the end when frustration set in. I do have one question, WHY DIDN'T WE USE OUR 1,000-YARD BACK?

Gaffney is probably one of the most respected and renowned programs in the state. But, the last couple of years have been kind of rough on the reservation. Two years ago, the Indians were supposed to have the best football team the state would ever see. We saw it and it just didn't look good. What looked worse was the fact that the perennial power (Gaffney) puffed out and the perennial puff (Dorman) powered up.

Lately, the Dorman/Gaffney rivalry has been real intense. Word is that, after Dorman won at the Reservation a couple of years back, some of the Cavalier players felt the need to do their own victory dance right in the middle of Gaffney's field. Things haven't been the same since. Do these programs hate each other…There's a thin line between love and hate and I don't think there is much love there.

The Indians play teams like Spartanburg and Union year in and year out. Watching those games is like watching two prizefighters using the sweet science of the gridiron to beat one another. Gaffney versus Dorman has been played with the science of a street brawl. Hardly pretty but always entertaining.

In a nutshell, most of the teams from around this way feel like Dorman still has a lot to prove. If a Dorman fan makes a reference to the school's rich history, then you know he has only been keeping up with Dorman football for a few years. Over the past few years, Dorman has been the program that gets a lot of press from our area. But, when the Vikings won the title last year, I felt that it sent a bold message to Dorman. Most people had practically pencilled Dorman in as the Big 16 champs. I am glad it wasn't written in ink. This year will be real interesting in a paired down region II-AAAA.

Reason #3- WITH THAT MANY STUDENTS, YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO WIN

Many people say that Dorman should win because of the number of students the school has. To me, that is perhaps the dumbest argument in the world. What about schools like Hillcrest or West Ashley? Sometimes, the talent or coaching is just not there.

When I graduated from Dorman in ‘92 the school had close to 2400 students. That meant absolutely nothing as far as success on the football field is concerned. We were just a little bit ahead of where Boiling Springs was at the time. Dorman didn't start winning until David Gutshall took over the team in the mid-90's. Gutshall year one: 4-7 but deep into the playoffs. Gutshall year two: 10-1 and state runner up. They have been pretty decent ever since.

A lot of students do not mean a lot of titles. You do have a larger pond to fish from but some ponds have bass and some just have the big goldfish with the meaty lump on their head. A lot of it has to do with the guy fishing. Before Gutshall took over at Dorman, Dale Evans coached the Cavaliers. Coach Evans is a great man and a great coach as well. Coach Evans was also the type of coach that tried to stick with a system he was familiar with...Run Forest Run. It just never panned out. Dorman didn't have the players to run that type of offense.

Many of you remember the former USC star Terry Wilburn. Before he was a star running back for the Gamecocks, he was a QB in the Cavalier's option oriented offense. A QB? Dorman rarely had the big bruiser needed to execute a run oriented offense.

AD Dale Evans hired NC legend David Gutshall to replace him as head coach. Gutshall came in and installed a pass happy offense that has gone on to produce an All-Star almost every year at QB. Devin Scott, Derek Burnette, Curtis Nash, Trey Rodgers, and Andrew Hewitt were all great signal callers for Gutshall. Some people say the system makes these guys look good. That could be true but is that bad? It could very well be the system but it's definitely not the number of students that attend the school. Dorman uses players on both sides just as much as anyone else and NO!!!, Dorman does not win using Spartan High rejects.

Reason #4- THE OFFENSE…Often imitated but never duplicated

To many coaches across the state, the offense Dorman runs is known as ‘The Dorman Offense'. We have seen so many coaches face the offense one-year and try to include pieces of it in their package the next.

Prime example, Byrnes High School.

Byrnes has undergone sort of a football rebirth the past couple of years. Bobby Bently has retooled the offense to perhaps the closest thing I have seen to what David Gutshall runs (Sometimes its looks even better). It may have helped the Bentley was an outstanding QB himself. He understands the little things a QB must do to make that type of offense work. Bentley's version of the offense could be even more deadly than Dorman's this season due to the fact that the Rebels will simply have more talent at wideout this year.

Byrnes and Dorman have been able to translate the offense to wins on the field. Two years ago, Dorman beat Spartanburg 38-14. I know Spartanburg's defense was a lot better than that. That offense can make a great opposing defense look like garbage. It is frustrating to a coach because it is hard to stop an offense like that when you only face it once or twice a year. Doc Davis did a lot better job preparing his team for the same offense last year and the Vikings held Dorman in check for most of the game.

I have a habit of sitting on the opponent's side at most Dorman home games. The main reason I do this is so that I can watch the game without the customary, ‘Earl how are you doing I haven't seen you in a long time' conversations that I find kind of distracting while I am trying to watch a game. It also gives me a chance to hear what fans from other schools think about Dorman.

Some of the most heard comments:

    1. They never run the ball…(That explains why we have had a 1,000 yard back each of the past three years)

    2. They couldn't score if not for the big plays. (Who says the Hail Mary should be saved for desperation?)

    3. Their QB's just dump the ball off on the slant. (Tie a tire to a tree and let it swing and see how often you can throw it through the hole from about ten yards away…now try it with a defensive line coming right at you)

    4. Many ‘football purists' feel that REAL football revolves around the run. That was cool when defenses just sat back and reacted to the offense but nowadays…defenses are more attacking and take more risk. You have to have an offense that allows you to penetrate the heart of the defense as quickly as possible. If you can get a wideout in a one on one situation with a linebacker in coverage, than I think that is the way to go.

Reason #5- THE Message Boards…

Personally, I think message boards often take away from the integrity of a website. They are often filled with fans that often do not see past what their school has done on the field. Most Internet sites lack the resources to have someone patrolling the sites all day. Bob and I discussed this prior to SCPrepfootball joining Rivals.

SCPrepfootball went for quite a while with no messageboard. Sites that use generic templates such as Rivals, have the board built in. Trust me, most of the webmasters I know spend most of their time with message board maintenance. It is probably the most frustrating aspect of being a webmaster. It is also the best way to interact with fans across the state. I guess the trade off was worth it for me. I would love to see a board that was restricted to just players and coaches interacting with each other. I have a feeling the messages would be a lot more docile than the posts by us rabid fans.

How did Dorman become the most hated team in Cyberspace? Timing! The messageboards really became a big thing around the fall of 1999. This was the same year that Dorman ended up losing to Stratford in the state. If I am not mistaken, Gaffney fans and Dorman fans started back and forth exchanges with each other first. These exchanges intensified when Dorman lost to Stratford.

I'll admit, some Dorman fans were poor losers. Fans from other schools in Region II-AAAA targeted Dorman as not upholding the Upstate's dominance. Dorman was like a boy trying to do a man's job. The funny thing about that is the fact that Summerville beat Gaffney just the year before (1998). Dorman would go on to answer all doubters in 2000 and added heat to the fire in a lot of stoves along the way.

Do you remember how it was when you got your first car and rode all around town so everyone could see what you got?

Dorman fans used the message boards to announce to the world their arrival. Some of the fans were not as laid back as others. It was amazing watching the words play out on messageboards on three different sites. Personally, I'm glad that I have a decent reputation with fans from schools that we have beaten as well as schools that have beaten us.

Do I hate to see Dorman lose? Probably more than most but I can live with it as long as Spartanburg doesn't win the title again. You see, football is a science to me. Almost like a class. It's your formula against mine. Mix it up and see which solution comes out on top.

To many others, football is the lifeblood of a community. Dorman is really not a community school. Gaffney, Summerville, Lexington, Marion, Union, and Sumter are great examples of community schools. When Gaffney plays Union, it is a clash between two communities. I think I am a big football fan that understands and loves the game for what it is. To fans of community schools, the meaning is probably a little more different, a little more intense. When someone tells me that they love Gaffney football, I know they are referring to what the program has meant to the community throughout the school's existence.

I met a guy at the Gaffney and Dorman game a few years back that could name every starting QB the school has had since he was born. I'm not going to get on the message boards and argue with guys like that. If anything, I respect that. Just look at the boards on any site that Gaffney fans post on. I think they won like four games last year and their fans are just as optimistic now as they were when they won the title just five years ago..

Most people that have ever played against Dorman have nothing but praises for the team. Dorman is known to play clean ball and to play four quarters. Dorman teams do not quit. They are well coached and very disciplined. Many of the guys that I see saying negative things about the Cavs are fans of teams that Dorman does not even play. I still don't have that figured out. For the most part, Dorman fans are enjoying their newfound success. Can you blame us? Its not like we have always had something to cheer about. We are still history in the making.

I'm not sure if there is such a thing as a high school football expert. It's just not possible. My posts and everyone else's are mostly just opinions. I guess a lot of us get so caught up in our competitive natures that we forget that winning a war of words is only worth 0 points on the scoreboard.

 

Earl Da Pearl


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