Great football teams are about more than just the superstars that fill up the headlines.
Teams like Chiawana have a certain number of glue guys that quietly go about their business and do whatever is necessary to help the team win.
Blake Bishop and Dre Dorton fit that mold for the Riverhawks, who will face Camas at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Tacoma Dome in the Class 4A state title game.
“They go out there every day and do their job,” Chiawana head coach Steve Graff said. “They are really good high school football players.”
Bishop, a senior, started the season as a safety before switching to linebacker in Week 6 when Logan Ellsworth went down with a knee injury.
“He stepped up and did it and has done a great job with it,” linebackers coach Kevin Pedersen said. “It says a lot about him, because he wanted to give what is best for the team. That is what it comes down to.”
Initially, the plan was to have Clifton Lozano switch to linebacker, but Bishop talked to Alex Weber and Grady Graff — the other linebackers — and it was decided that Bishop would be a better fit to help keep Lozano rested for offense.
“It is a lot harder,” Bishop said of the new position. “You have to react quicker at linebacker because you can’t see everything in front of you. At safety, you can see everything and watch a play develop.”
Bishop has certainly performed in his new role.
He returned a fumble for a touchdown, had an interception and a sack in the quarterfinal victory over Wenatchee, and added two sacks and a tackle for a loss in the semifinal win over Federal Way.
“Blake is that kid that just personifies high school football,” wide receivers coach Steve Davis said. “He is a kid that loves it. He gives everything he has to it and he just competes. He is what a high school football player is all about.
“If we had 11 of those kids at every position — even if they were the same size as him — we would win titles. He is just a high school football player.”
Dorton also switched positions, doing so last year.
As a sophomore he was playing safety, but struggling a bit. Davis saw talent in him, though, and helped him switch to receiver where he has thrived.
He finished the regular season ninth in the league in receptions (28) and seventh in yards (463), playing the perfect tango to the speed of fellow wideout Deion Singleton.
“His energy and his confidence kept growing and growing,” Davis said of Dorton last year. “Right now he is probably my favorite receiver I’ve ever coached.”
Dorton does a bit of everything for Chiawana, catching passes, punting and playing strong at defensive back. His athleticism also gives opposing special teams units fits when he is lined up to punt, as he can easily run for a first down as he did multiple times against Gonzaga Prep in the state play-in game.
“You just go hard on every single snap,” he said. “You never know if the ball is coming to you or not. You just do your best and try to prove to the coach how good you are.”
That type of attitude has served both Dorton and Bishop well, as they have in turn helped Chiawana to within one victory of the pinnacle.
“It is every high schooler’s dream to go play in the Tacoma Dome and it has become a reality the past week,” Bishop said.