Compared with the rest of his family, Dalton Estes is just a little guy.
The 5-foot-9, 165-pound Waitsburg-Prescott running back comes from a family of giants.
But while he isn’t as big as his older brothers, or as tall as his parents, Joe and Lisa, he still packs a punch on the football field.
“We always wrestled growing up,” Estes said of his two older brothers. “I’d get thrown across the living room and get back and come at them.”
His older brothers — Eshom Estes (6-2, 250) and Kris Oliver (6-3, 270) — helped mold Dalton into a football player who doesn’t back down from would-be tacklers, many of whom have at least 60 pounds on him.
“He’s a weight room guy,” Waitsburg-Prescott coach Jeff Bartlow said. “He’s committed to that. He’s tough to bring down.”
Estes leads the Cardinals (10-1) into the Class 2B quarterfinals against Reardan at 1 p.m. Saturday at West Valley High in Spokane. He does so as a running back, which is a position shift from the start of the season.
Estes was an all-state wide receiver as a junior, and was off to a monster start through four games this season. But the team parted ways with starting running back Billy Brown, and Bartlow tabbed Estes as the player to fill the void.
“We take our best weapon and pull him,” Bartlow said. “Our best bet, though, was him in the backfield.”
Estes played running back in middle school and on junior varsity as a sophomore for Waitsburg-Prescott, so the position wasn’t new to him.
It was different from wide receiver, though, as he had to look at the field in a new way. He was a quick study, though, racking up 998 yards rushing in six games.
“After playing a bit, I got used to seeing the holes in the line,” he said. “It became second nature.”
He rushed for almost 250 yards in a victory against Asotin. He also had 100 rushing and 100 receiving out of the backfield in a win against Tri-Cities Prep, as his catching ability has opened up a new wrinkle for the Cardinals’ offense.
Bartlow also pointed out the Waitsburg High senior’s understanding of football as being a big help in the backfield.
“Dalton is as good as I’ve ever had when it comes to knowing the game,” he said. “He helps with line calls and helping with audibles that (quarterback) Stirling (Eastman) might miss, and he is great at protection. Just a good football player.”
Estes can be seen throughout practice directing other players — on both offense and defense, where he plays in the secondary. He often is barking out instructions, or calling out what set the offense is in.
He hopes one day to transition into coaching football.
“I’ve just always enjoyed helping people,” he said. “Getting to teach and show kids how to play would be the best thing.”For now, though, Estes has a few things to accomplish first.
His Cardinals are in the state quarterfinals for a second consecutive season, and they have their sights set on returning to the Tacoma Dome and the state championship game.
Waitsburg-Prescott is the defending state champion, and one of the reasons it is back in the mix for another title is Estes.“He is the heart and soul of the team,” Bartlow said. “It’s nice to see him blossom.”