On the first day of football practice back in August, Douglass coach Willis Alexander started the process of finding a field goal kicker — not traditionally a position of strength for the Trojans.
“We said, ‘whoever thinks they can kick, come kick,'” Alexander recalled.
Dameko Doddles, who had never attempted a field goal before that day, ultimately won the job.
And on Friday night, he became a hero.
Doddles made a 22-yard field goal with 8 seconds left to give the Trojans a 24-21 win over Tulsa Washington at Moses Miller Stadium.
“Coach Alexander asked me if I could make it, and I wasn't sure, but I was gonna try,” Doddles said. “I just did what I do at practice every day, and it went through.”
Alexander admits he hesitated to send his new kicker into that situation. But after a pregame speech in which he told his players they needed to trust each other, Alexander decided he needed to trust them, too.
“There was a little hesitation for me,” Alexander said of calling on Doddles to kick the game-winner. “But the kids said, ‘Hey coach, this is what we work on.' They believed. As a coach, I have to learn how to trust them. When my players say they can get it done, I have to trust that they can get it done.”
Moments earlier, Alexander put his trust in sophomore quarterback Patrick McKaufman and senior receiver Isaiah Shaputis. Facing fourth-and-14 from the Tulsa Washington 35-yard line, the two connected when Shaputis made a one-handed grab of McKaufman's pass and broke a tackle for a 22-yard gain.
“It was fourth and I don't know how much, but I knew I had to step up and make a play. That's what my coach wanted me to do,” Shaputis said. “I worked hard to become the player I am now, and that was my chance to show what I can be.”