Dre Dorton has done just about everything a player can possibly do for the Chiawana Riverhawks this season.
As a defensive back, Dorton intercepted five passes — returning one for a touchdown — to lead the Mid-Columbia Conference, cementing his reputation as a dominating cornerback.
As a wide receiver, the 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior caught 22 passes for 383 yards and six touchdowns, accounting for more than a third of quarterback Logan Ellsworth’s 64 completions. Dorton was a threat to run, too, averaging 8.8 yards a carry with two more scores.
By the way, he threw four passes, completing each one for a total of 102 yards.
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Dorton also led the team in kickoff returns.
So when Riverhawks coach Steve Graff was asked at which position Dorton was considered most valuable, the usually outspoken Graff didn’t disappoint.
“As a punter right now,” Graff said. “He’s been really good. He had a 66-yarder against Lewis and Clark, and he’s always a threat to run.”
There’s actually no true consensus for which position Dorton is best-suited on a football field. The most important thing for Chiawana is just having him out there.
“I think he’s done awesome at cornerback, but his heart lies in being a wide receiver,” Riverhawks offensive coordinator Dave Spray said. “He has a mentality where he wants the ball, but he’s taken it upon himself to be a shutdown corner.”
When Chiawana (10-1) plays Gonzaga Prep (10-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Class 4A state quarterfinals at Edgar Brown Stadium, they’ll have to find a way to defend Austin Urlacher, who leads the MCC in rushing with 2,207 yards and 30 touchdowns. But it would be a big mistake to forget about Dorton, who was named to the all-MCC first team as a receiver and a cornerback, with a second-team nod as a punter.
Spray said that sometimes the coaching staff kicks itself for not involving Dorton more in the offense — Spray would like him to get 10-12 touches a game, ideally — but sometimes game plans change according to how opponents defend.
“We want to get him going vertically or try to get him the ball in the flats with some blocking,” Spray said. “We like to get him crossing the field so somebody is chasing him.”
Dorton’s speed and athleticism gives him an obvious edge on the field, but his selfless attitude makes him an ideal teammate. On Urlacher’s 65-yard touchdown run during last Saturday’s 47-7 Class 4A first-round win over Davis, Dorton ran step for step down the sideline with Urlacher, finishing up the play by blocking a Pirates safety into the end zone.
“Sometimes I just like blocking. You can crack somebody without them even knowing,” Dorton said. “Punting is fun, too.”
Ellsworth has come to depend on Dorton on both sides of the ball, last year as an all-MCC linebacker and this year as signal-caller.
“As far as passing the ball, he’s everything. Teams will shift their coverage toward him. As a 1-on-1 receiver, he’s my go-to guy,” said Ellsworth, whom Dorton replaced as punter last year after Ellsworth suffered a season-ending knee injury. “On defense, his recovery speed is really good. I hate going against him on scout team.”
Graff is admittedly tough on Dorton, the same way he was when coaching his uncle, Doug Dorton, at Pasco High School back in the early 1990s. Maybe that’s one reason why Dre will head to Eastern Washington University on a football scholarship, just like his uncle.
“I harp on him more than I praise him,” Graff said. “I had that chat with him. If (recruiters) see film on you and you’re jogging around, they’re not going to want you.”
Dorton, who looks forward to joining former Riverhawks star Miquiyah Zamora on the Eagles’ roster, has taken that advice to heart.
“I know he’s doing it to make me better,” Dorton said. “He’s honest and straight to the point.”
Chiawana boys basketball coach Chad Herron hasn’t had to play bad cop much with Dorton, who will be one of his main defensive stoppers in the Riverhawks’ backcourt.
“He’s one of those kids who makes you think, ‘This is why I went into coaching,’ ” Herron said. “He’s a hard worker and a tough kid with a smile that lights up a room. Basketball may be his third sport (he’s also a standout sprinter who finished sixth in last year’s Class 4A state 100 meters), but you wouldn’t know that by coaching him.”