When E’Quan Dorris is at his best, Anthony Dixon says, his feet never stop moving.
Six weeks into the high school football season, the South Fort Myers junior running back has shown plenty of those moments. He stands second among all rushers in Southwest Florida in total yards gained and is tied for first in touchdowns with 11.
“He’s trusting himself,” Dixon says of his back’s instincts. “He’s coming down, he’s sticking his toe in the ground. And people, a lot of people don’t know, a lot of his yards are still after contact.”
He remains a major factor as the Wolfpack (4-1) head into a big non-conference game Friday at home against Ida Baker. The team will be at full strength for the first time all season, welcoming back seniors Andre Polk and Jacquez Thornton, who were suspended following a preseason skirmish with North Fort Myers.
“We’re a little more versatile now,” Dixon said.
Offensively, it all starts with Dorris, who’s having a breakout year at the tailback position.
He’s rushed 115 times for 897 yards and found the end zone 11 times, tied in the region with Palmetto Ridge’s Jaheem Washington, who leads all rushers with 1,052 yards on the ground.
But where the junior separates is in his resume. At South Fort Myers, he’s on pace to break every school rushing record. Dorris already has four of his own: rushing yards in a game (260), career rushing touchdowns (32), career yards (2,188) and longest touchdown run (92).
Dixon has given Dorris an especially compelling goal: 2,000 yards.
“The 2,000 mark is something we try to press,” Dixon said. “We set the bar high. But it can happen.”
No back in South Fort Myers history has ever hit the mark, but Dixon believes Dorris can be the first. He’s well on his way already.
“For me to finish and get close to 2,000 yards and for a team, to try and get past the third round, (that’s the goal),” Dorris said of his aspirations this year.
He’s quick to thank his offensive line, which he says is the best since his freshman year with the Wolfpack in 2013.
“It’s been good,” he says. “I’m averaging a lot of yards. I give credit to my line and my coaches for calling good plays.”
But Dorris also has a knack for finding the hole. He has yet to rush below 100 yards in a game, which is a change from last year, when he didn’t hit triple-digits once.
He’s also compiled two games of over 200 yards, his first coming against Island Coast on Aug. 28 when he went for 219 yards and three touchdowns in a 33-10 victory. He followed that performance the very next week with a 260 yard and four touchdown outing against Cape Coral during a 50-19 win.
“Well the biggest thing is, we’re trying to make sure we have a power running game,” Dixon said. “He brings so much more to the table than we’re actually showing, because we’re really trying to find an identity.”
The key for Dorris, he says, is in the work. When the junior isn’t watching film with the team, he’s examining plays at home on his phone – where he watches from the app Hudl. Some days, he’ll watch film with his brother Ed on his laptop.
He spends at least 30 minutes a day on his own studying defenses and weaknesses in his game. If he finds he didn’t hit a hole particularly right, he’ll go back to practice the next day to correct it.
“Film, it don’t lie,” Dixon said. “So being a running back, a lot of times kids can get in trouble by stopping their feet and not believing in their instincts. So when he goes and replays it, he can see that visually he saw it, but he didn’t take it.”
Dorris says he gets motivation from his brother, who was a former running back at South Fort Myers, too – as it stands, both he and Ed are tied for most touchdown in a game with four.
“I’m trying to follow in his footsteps,” he says.
Following an average sophomore year, when Dorris rushed for only 553 yards, he’s found a new life. That’s part experience, Dixon said, but also it’s part of the scheme. South entered the season with a new quarterback, so naturally Dorris found a bigger role in the offense.
“Right now, we’re just trying to make sure we can run downhill, so in different situations we’re putting him in, you’ll see him,” Dixon said. “Things will start to change because we’ll get in the playoff mode.”
With the finish line approaching, the Wolfpack are setting their sights on winning the three-team District 7A-12. Next week brings the team’s first district opponent in Riverdale, before Gulf Coast follows two weeks later.
Dorris, like usual, will be in the center of it all.
“It feels good,” he said. “People rely on me to make big plays. My line believes in me. My coaches, my teammates, they believe in me when I have the ball in my hands.”