Though he was just a freshman, Isaac Dotson spent the season preparing on the Newport sideline, just in case.
Then, near the end of the season, injuries began to take their toll on the Knights backfield.
A kid with talent like Dotson? Looked like the perfect match. Except Dotson played quarterback, and the Knights had a solid, two-year starter in captain Ross Quarre manning that position.
Except Quarre had other plans.
“Ross just raised his hand and said ‘Coach, I’ll play back,’” said Newport coach Mike Miller. “That opened it up for Isaac and he stepped in there and played great.”
Dotson made his first appearance late in the Knights loss to Issaquah in the regular season finale. His first start came the very next week, in Newport’s three-way tiebreaker playoff against Redmond and Eastlake for the Crest Division’s final playoff spot.
“I was really, really nervous but I just tried to maintain composure,” Dotson said. “I felt I prepared well so I just came in and did what I needed to do. It was just another football game.”
Dotson led the Knights to victory in the first mini-game against Redmond and to a first score in the Eastlake game before the Wolves scored two straight touchdowns to end Newport’s postseason bid.
Now, there’s no doubt about his position in the lineup. Dotson, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound sophomore, is firmly entrenched as Newport’s quarterback of the present and future. Perhaps the biggest compliment he receives is the praise of Newport’s senior captains:
• “He’s definitely earned all of our trust.” – running back James Dupar
• “The first time we saw him on the field, even as a freshman, we thought this guy would be the starting quarterback at Newport for his whole high school career.” – lineman Matt Murray
• “Isaac is like the adult on the field. He’s barely 15 but he’s one of the most physically mature and mentally mature guys on the field. I’ve never seen him frustrated.” – running back Louie Jachim.
That kind of praise doesn’t come easy, Miller said. It comes when a player works hard, is respectful and stays humble.
Dotson’s work ethic is one thing. It’s his talent on the field that has Newport excited – and adapting. For the first time in years, the Knights will eschew their traditional Wing-T offense and install a new system – a triple option scheme to take advantage of their speed and experience.
Newport, a young team last season, returns eight starters on offense (to go with seven on defense), including three backs who racked up yardage last year in Jachim, Dupar and sophomore Eric Rodan. The new-look offense should help play to the Knights strength – its speed. It’s not the first time the Knights have fielded a triple option offense: The team ran the same system in 1992, when they won a Class 4A state championship.
“It’s different, but I think we all wanted it a little bit,” Jachim said. “You can only do so much with the Wing-T.”
Defensively, the Knights return other impact players in safety Kevin Martin, linebacker James Burch and linemen Joe Givens and Patrick Taiwo, the latter gaining high praise for his work over the summer.
“All I can say is that I would not want to be up against him on the field,” Dupar said of the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Taiwo. “He’s going to be dangerous.”
In a year as wide-open as it’s been since the newly-formed KingCo 4A took shape two years ago, Newport players say they want to take the next step to the playoffs.
“I remember the taste in my mouth walking off the field after that game, losing the opportunity for the state playoff berth,” Murray said. “It’s a burning desire for us this year.”