- About Us
Newport rising together to find identity post-Dotson | 2013 Reporter Prep Football Preview
For Newport head football coach Mike Miller, the feeling is an unfamiliar one.
Since Miller inserted now-graduated quarterback Isaac Dotson into the starting lineup during his freshman season in 2009, that spot on the depth chart has not changed.
But this season, with Dotson a Washington State Cougar and the Knights looking to make another playoff push in 4A KingCo, Miller once again needs to find a new triggerman for the offense.
"That is the question in everyone's mind," Miller acknowledged. "Losing him is huge and those are some big shoes someone has to fill, and naturally that has left a lot of question marks."
As much as Dotson mattered to the Knights on the field, to the tune of more than 1,800 yards and 28 touchdowns rushing and passing, he was even more important in the locker room and as a field general, where Miller said he simply stood alone.
"I have never had a kid like that, where I just trusted him beyond measure," Miller said. "We're going to miss that."
It will be a collective effort to replace the leadership void, and a host of underclassmen vying for the job under center.
Junior lineman Calvin Throckmorton, a 6-foot-6, 260 pound earth mover, along with seniors Drew Sample and Connor Baumann headline a group that hopes to make it back-to-back state tournament appearances after Newport reached the first round of the state playoffs last year before a 41-14 loss to Mead in Spokane.
Baumann returns as the team's leading rusher after posting 1,338 yards (more than 10 per carry) and tallying 14 touchdowns on the ground last year. Two other players who scored four rushing touchdowns also return to the backfield in Paul Wells and Brian Setijono.
Miller said after gaining confidence throughout his junior year in 2012 and becoming the team's workhorse in the ground game, Baumann is anything but satisfied.
"He realized how good he is, and how good he can be," Miller said. "He still wants to get better."
The quarterback competition is between juniors Jordan Sandberg and J.P. Routen and Miller said while it has never been his preference in nearly two decades at Newport to rotate quarterbacks, that possibility remains open this year.
"Right now, they are neck-and-neck," he said of the competition. "We might go in playing both."
Whomever ultimately becomes the full-time starter at quarterback will likely spend plenty of time handing off to Baumann and targeting Sample, who caught a team-high five touchdowns last year.
Taking the reins at quarterback will also come with the added responsibility in the huddle, and Miller said he has confidence not only in the two players competing to replace Dotson, but also a senior class that has seen its share of ups and downs during the previous three years. From a state appearance in 2010 to a difficult 2011 that included the passing of longtime coach Tim Driver before a game, and a 2012 season that produced another trip to state, this year's group of seniors have experienced the entire spectrum of emotions.
"I'm hoping we get four or five guys who can step up and be that guy, it doesn't need to be one guy," Miller said. "I've talked to these guys about how important that is."