Highlights: Luke Doty scores three touchdowns in opening win
Around 20 minutes before South Carolina quarterback commit Luke Doty opens his senior football season for Myrtle Beach against Hanahan, he’s done with his pregame routine with the backs and receivers, the “air raid crew.” He sneaks over to the offensive line, getting some final instructions, and has his own impromptu pep talk.
These players are set to protect him, but he’s not talking about his own well being.
“Run the ball,” he barks to cap the speech.
This kind of leadership isn’t a new thing. He’s being asked for more on the leadership front, to be sure, as the Seahawks turned over a number of big veterans. But this is something of a standard approach.
“I normally try to talk to my guys, air raid crew and then head down to the hogs and give them some love,” Doty said. “Those are my guys and they do a hell of a job protecting me out on the field, and I try to give them as much love as I can because they deserve it.”
He’s got a few more months as a high school player before he jumps to the college tables and the Gamecocks. That last run is something to savor, and his status as a state champ and top recruit going to the in-state school has made him an in-demand man for photos with fans and interviews after his first game of the season.
His highlight was a run that went 93 yards, but a few possessions earlier, he showed he might have picked up a little something from those linemen.
His team‘s first touchdown of the season came from a running back who was slightly sprung by a block from the four-star, dual-threat passer. It was just one of a few small moments in a game where Myrtle Beach ran away with things, so Doty’s night was over before the final possession of the first half.
A few more of those small moments for him.
▪ After borrowing a coach’s headset to talk to his coordinator, he took a moment to towel off the sweat. As he explained, “Trying to be courteous.”
▪ As he warmed up after halftime, with almost no chance he’d see the field again, he talked over each mistake, each missed pass and what exactly went wrong with a nearby coach.
▪ With less than five minutes left in a blowout, he was still yelling for the punt block team to be at the ready when it looked as if a stop might be coming.
▪ He capped his night with a few photos both with friends and fans — pnce with a pair of young girls in Myrtle Beach cheerleader uniforms, and then with a pair of young self-professed Gamecocks fans, as the bus idled waiting on him.
“He just brings a great energy to our team,” Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson said. “He’s a guy who always is encouraging any of our players but especially our offensive linemen, and he knows those guys protect him and take care of him. So he’s going to always try to keep those guys positive and be on those guys.”
His day was productive to say the least, 127 rushing yards on five carries. 147 passing yards on 11-of-15 passing. Three total scores.
He’s coming off a year when he took over the starting quarterback role and led his team to a state title. A part-time receiver the season prior, he threw for 3,037 yards and ran for 701 more, tossing 36 touchdowns to six interceptions.
His team lost a slew of veterans and shifted from one mission to another. Winning a state title is one thing, but defending one is a different beast.
On that front, Doty has been tasked with bringing others along, getting players who are older but not necessarily seasoned up to speed.
“He’s definitely taken on being the leader of the team, even more so than he did last year,” offensive coordinator Wes Streater said. “You know, as a senior, he really has a control of the locker room and the group. He’s always working it, on the field, you know, did the Elite 11 thing this summer and still works on his mechanics and fundamentals just as hard as he always has.”
Just after the Seahawks won their title last December, Wilson credited summer days spent at Streater’s home with growing Doty as a passer. This summer, the state champ and top-100 national recruit did the same thing.
Some of that showed on his second touchdown when he rolled left, then worked through three progressions and hit a backside post for a score. The extra prep also couldn’t have hurt as he raced down the sideline Friday night to cap his jaunt of more than 90 yards, looking as if he’d been “shot out of a cannon,” in his coach’s words.
Doty appeared to be grinning as he trucked out the final 20 or so yards.
And after his game was done, he spent time encouraging and cheering for his sophomore backup Ryan Burger. His younger brother Jake was a ball boy on the sideline, a 14-year-old JV passer helping out. (“Really excited for him,” Luke Doty said.)
Luke Doty got to the locker room around 10 p.m., with more than two hours of driving to get home. But that didn’t stop him from getting up early to get to Charlotte for South Carolina’s opener, a four-hour drive to meet up with fellow commits Da’Qon Stewart and Mike Wyman.
Even before looking to a Gamecocks future, Doty admitted it was surreal to feel his present. His last high school opener was done, his last ride as a Seahawk started.
It again comes down to those little moments.
“I think it’s just about doing everything that I can for for my guys,” Doty said. “Just to get them prepared to go win another state title and make sure they’re firing on all cylinders like we should be.”