A season ago, Luke Doty might not have been able to lead his Myrtle Beach High School football team back as he did this past Friday, showing command in the face of a challenge.
The Class of 2020 South Carolina quarterback commit wasn’t even full-time at that position back then. He played some QB, some wide receiver, even a little defense. When the senior ahead of him graduated, the job was his. But that didn’t mean he had all that he needed.
Everything that happened this season for Doty — the prolific numbers, the comfort in a high-powered offense, making good in a state title game — that all began in the summer, when he made himself a constant guest of offensive coordinator Wes Streater.
“I used to go over to Streater’s house almost every day during the summer,” Doty said. “I almost lived over there. He just sat down with me and really took me through everything, just made sure that I knew the offense just as good or better than they did.”
That command showed in the state title game at South Carolina’s Williams-Brice Stadium against Greer. The start wasn’t ideal, with 83 yards on the first five drives for an anemic 3.6 yards a play with a pair of sacks that helped snuff out possessions.
Then came the drives in rapid succession. Seventy-two yards for a touchdown, then 54, 24 off an interception and finally an 11-play, 70-yard march to put the nail in the coffin.
At the center was Doty, fully in command and slinging it around. At game’s start, he was in a deep shotgun set, and still the strong Yellow Jackets line was getting after him. By the end, he was in control.
“You could see that composure set in,” Seahawks coach Mickey Wilson said, “which has really kind of taken shape in the last three or four ballgames. He just did a great job of distributing the ball and then taking off when he needed to. He’s a special young man.”
This from a player who threw five touchdowns and seven interceptions a year ago. In his sophomore season, he produced an interesting all-around line — 703 passing yards, 250 rushing yards, 35 receptions for 391 yards.
By the end of his junior season, he’d thrown for 3,037 yards with 36 touchdowns, completing 71.6 percent of his passes. He added 701 yards and seven scores on the ground, including 200-plus yards while upending powerful Hartsville in the Lower State final.
His sophomore numbers were those of a player who goes to college as a developmental quarterback or position change candidate. What he did this year, after committing to USC just before the season started, makes him look like a much more formed passer, a dual-threat option on the next level.
“I was in a pretty unique position last year,” Doty said. “I was able to play a lot of different positions, wide receiver, quarterback, even some defense at some points.
“To come back this year and have control over the offense, have full command over it. It was definitely a learning experience for me through the season. There were ups, there were downs. But I tried to stay level through them all.”
On Friday, he had Gamecock coaches watching him in Will Muschamp, QB coach Dan Werner and running backs coach Bobby Bentley. Before the game, the message was to go out there and have fun. While he didn’t take too much note of the coaches during the game, his coach, Wilson said the team got back to having fun during its comeback.
He and his team came through a lot, games canceled by hurricanes, a season interrupted. But he grew into a student of the game, in his coach’s words. He’s got one more year of high school, but he got to end this one in the locker room he’ll occupy in college, granted with a different cast.
“There’s nothing like it,” Doty said after winning state. “I’ve been in there countless times. Just to come in there with my guys, the guys I’ve been with since this time last year, to be back here in this environment and this stadium, to get a win like this, it means a lot to us.”