Shadyside’s Dorris Named The Intelligencer’s 28th Sophomore of the Year

SHADYSIDE -A little more than 28 months ago, Shadyside was playing in a football preview at Martins Ferry with the varsity, jayvee, and junior high teams all participating.

When it was over, one of those junior high kids had caught the eye of veteran Purple Riders coach Dave Bruney, who has seen more than his share of special players through the years.

”This kid will play for you next year, trust me,” Bruney told Tigers coach Mark Holenka.

”He was right,” Holenka said.

Bruney was talking about Austin Dorris, who indeed, started at linebacker as a freshman for a Tigers team that advanced all the way to the Ohio Division VI region 21 championship game.

”There’s not too many freshmen that have come in and played, at least not as starters,” Holenka said. ”He was one that we saw that could probably handle it.”

Dorris followed that up with the kind of sophomore campaign that gets notice. At 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, he played linebacker, receiver, and a little at quarterback, catching 29 passes for 507 yards and seven touchdowns; completing 5 of 11 passes for 77 yards and a TD; and totaling 53 tackles, two sacks, three pass breakups, three interceptions, and a pair of defensive scores.

”He learned so much from his freshman year to his sophomore year,” Holenka said. ”The game really slowed down for him. He was able to make calls and see things happen quicker. He’s got a lot of room to grow. He’s going to a big-time football player.”

For those efforts, Dorris has been named The Intelligencer’s 28th Sophomore of the Year – the first Shadyside player to be so honored.

”That’s a heck of an accomplishment,” Dorris said. ”I didn’t know I was up for anything, but I’m thankful, for sure.”

The truth is, Dorris, who was generally the biggest kid his age, has been on the fast track to big things since the fifth grade, when he left the flag football at Shadyside behind for the Little Patriots program in Wheeling, where he played alongside, among others, Parker Henry, last year’s Sophomore of the Year honoree from Wheeling Central.

It was a route he similarly took in the other three sports he played – basketball, hockey, and baseball, where the travel leagues in which those teams participated helped him face the best competition he could.

”I wanted to get focused on getting to college,” he said. ”You get to see more, travel to more places. You get to see what’s out there except for just the valley.”

If you’re looking for pedigree, look no farther than Austin’s mother, the former Gloria Josefczyk, a 1985 graduate of Union Local who scored more than 1,000 points for the Jets by the time she’d left.

A member of the Tigers basketball team, Dorris hit what proved to be the deciding free-throws in overtime Friday night as they beat Martins Ferry. Still, he says, mom is better.

”I feel like she’d definitely beat me in a game of 1-on-1,” he said.

Back to football, Dorris will make the switch to quarterback full time next season following the graduation of two-year starter Chase Kinemond.

”He’s most likely the heir apparent,” Holenka said. ”I don’t know how the Sam linebacker fits in. You hate to take him out of the game. We’re going to have to hold our breath (when he plays defense). It won’t be a constant.”

Whichever position opens the door for a college scholarship – linebacker, quarterback, receiver – Dorris’ goal is to walk through it.

For now though, he’s just taking it all in. After all, he and his mates helped the Tigers to their first unbeaten regular season since 1977 last month.

”It meant the world to me,” Dorris said. ”It hasn’t been done in 35 years. It was definitely big accomplishment and an honor.”

Others considered for the Sophomore of the Year Award were Bishop Donahue’s Jesse Padlow, Wheeling Park’s Chalmer Moffett, Bridgeport’s Bailey McGrath, Weir’s William Larch, and Union Local’s Tater Blake.