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The Wait Is Over: Dorsey QB Noah Whitney Gets His Chance

Law Murray |
November 8, 2013 | 10:01 a.m. PST

Staff Writer

Dorsey senior QB Noah Whitney has led the school to another winning season in 2013 (Photo courtesy Noah Whitney).
Dorsey senior QB Noah Whitney has led the school to another winning season in 2013 (Photo courtesy Noah Whitney).

Dorsey versus Crenshaw on a Friday night. It is the biggest rivalry of the year in Los Angeles sports. On this night, Dorsey ran into a homecoming celebration that fans of neither team will forget any time soon. Crenshaw would knock off Dorsey 41-0. All 41 of those points came by halftime.

Dorsey quarterback Noah Whitney, a 6-foot-2 senior this year, had perhaps his worst performance of the season. He couldn’t lead his team to a scoring drive for the first time all year, and he was intercepted a season-high three times.

“Man,” said Whitney after the game ended that night. “Tough one.”

For Whitney, he knew practice the next morning would be uncomfortable for the team. It’s a young team with several players filling roles for the first time ever. That’s the kind of team that may become powerful as sophomores become seniors. But the youth and inexperience of the team means that there are inevitable growing pains.

Many of those marks of inexperience showed up in that October 18 game. Missed assignments. Dropped passes. Blown coverages. Mental mistakes. Whitney was on the field for it all. Despite the ugly score, Whitney didn’t miss a snap.

“We have to use [that game] as an example,” said Whitney at the team’s practice the next morning, less than 12 hours after the final score. “We were losing so bad, and I wanted to finish the game out. My teammates needed to see that.”

Whitney has spent the past few seasons looking forward to an opportunity to lead. He sat behind record-breaking quarterback Joe Gray, currently playing at San Jose State, as a freshman. Whitney currently wears number 16, Gray’s old number, as a nod to his mentor. He also served as a backup in his sophomore and junior years to Reginald Bell, who is playing quarterback at Eastern Michigan University now.

“[Gray] always pushed me,” said Whitney of his experience working with Gray. “He told me that I’m going to be the next good quarterback out of Dorsey. And he wore number 16. That’s why I wear number 16, because I told him that I was going to break his records in his own jersey. And that’s what I did the first game, I broke one of his records.”

That first game sure did a lot to make up for the waiting for Whitney to debut as a starter. Against Fairfax, Whitney passed for a school record 359 yards to go along with four touchdowns in a 25-23 season opening win. Whitney showed off his deep ball on multiple occasions to Jermale Jefferson and Daniel Lawson, but his chemistry with wide receiver David Williams has been a key for Whitney’s development as a passer.

“Noah and I have been working together since ninth and tenth grade,” said Williams, a 6-foot-3 senior and a highly regarded utility man who is expected to weigh multiple offers from schools. “I’m probably closer to him than [Reggie Ball]. He’s a really hard worker, a real inspiration. Noah is underrated, probably because of his size, but he broke [Gray’s] record.”

Underrated. It’s a word that comes up a lot when describing Whitney. Even counting the loss at Crenshaw, Whitney has thrown 23 touchdown passes against nine interceptions. He also has two rushing scores this season. His team has a 7-4 record, but four of those wins came against a weak Coliseum league, so there’s a good chance that he’ll continue to be underrated. Not that being underrated is bad for Whitney.

“When I hear underrated, it brings a smile to my face,” Whitney said. “That’s just something that’s pushed me since I started playing football. Underrated? I think that’s more of a positive trait than anything. Underrated means that you should be higher, but people aren’t recognizing you.”

After some weightlifting and running, the team went in for the film session from the Crenshaw game. Whitney values his intelligence as a quarterback, and he sat front and center in the darkened classroom, speaking up often as he watched on tape all of the errors that cost a team to win by the end of the first quarter.

“He knows the plays better than the coach,” said junior defensive lineman Kentin Banks.

Offensive line coach Late Bankouadagba recruited Whitney to play football at Dorsey from Pop Warner. Bankouadagba is proud of Whitney, but there are still teachable moments: “He’s not a quitter, he doesn’t get complacent,” said Bankouadagba.”But he is figuring out how to lead effectively.”

Dorsey bounced back from the Crenshaw loss to win four straight, including a 22-7 first-round playoff win against Roosevelt Friday. Whitney had three touchdowns and zero interceptions. The win sets up a rematch at Crenshaw this week, the same team that ended Dorsey's season at the same point last year.

Plays are made with that perfect blend of size and athleticism. Whitney doesn’t fit into most plays, but has been a major player for this team. As he goes, so does the team.

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