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Defensive player of the year: West's Tristan Dorty

By Nick Bowton

Salisbury Post

Tristan Dorty can’t pick just one play. He can’t remember one sack that sticks out or one particular fumble he forced.

Maybe Dorty’s so quiet he just doesn’t want to talk about his gaudy statistics. Maybe he had too many highlight plays to remember just one.

Probably a bit of both.

Dorty earned county defensive player of the year honors this year after having one of the best seasons a defensive lineman has ever had in Rowan County.

His stats read something like “The 12 Days of Christmas.”

One hundred-six tackles. Thirty-three tackles for loss. Twenty-four sacks. Six forced fumbles. Six recovered fumbles. Four batted passes. Two blocked punts. And one interception for a touchdown.

For Dorty, all of those numbers add up to one. One great career at West Rowan.

“Every play’s been great for me,” he said. “To be able to play in a West uniform, every play’s been great for me. It’s funny ’cause I could have ended up at either South or North ’cause I moved right before I came to middle school. But I think it was meant to be for me to be at West, to have the kind of career that I had.

“I’m kind of sad it’s over but just ready to move on now. Have to move on.”

Dorty will move on to Wake Forest, where he’ll move from defensive end to linebacker. While the Demon Deacons will welcome his size (6-foot-3, 240 pounds) and athleticism, West will miss those attributes even more.

Over the past two seasons, Dorty has given West a player around which opposing offenses have to gameplan. Do they double-team Dorty and let Chandler Turner and Maurice Lyerly loose? Do they try to block Dorty one-on-one and risk a sack or two or five?

Does West coach Scott Young care about those questions? Nope. He’s just glad he’s spent the past few years coaching Dorty, not coaching against him.

“Great luxury,” Young said. “He played at such a high level for us the past two years. He was just outstanding with everything he’s done. The way he conducted himself on the field and the way he conducted himself off the field, we sure are gonna miss him. There’s no replacing him. There really isn’t. A lot of times that’s coach speak. You say that about a bunch of ’em, but you really mean it in his case.

“There’s no way we can replace him, and I look forward to seeing good things out of him in the future.”

While Young looks forward to watching Dorty’s career continue in college, he doesn’t look forward to filling his spot in the lineup.

Dorty might not have been very vocal, but he led by example as well as anyone. One monstrous hit on a quarterback would fire up his teammates, linebacker Willie Sherrill said, and it also let opponents know they’d have to deal with No. 92 all night.

Dorty, speaking in his usual low voice, said the not-vocal description didn’t always apply. On the field, he said, he was much louder.

Still, the only emotion the Falcons saw on a regular basis was Dorty’s “straight arms.”

“The biggest emotion, we kid with him,” Young said, “is when he goes straight arms. He’ll pump them arms straight down, and that’s when you know he’s fired up.”

Dorty displayed that move after plenty of sacks, and he hopes to be able to do so again at Wake.

Demon Deacons coach Jim Grobe rarely plays true freshmen, even when the depth chart gets ravaged by injuries. Still, Dorty plans on playing as soon as possible in Winston-Salem.

“I don’t know what’s gonna happen yet, but if I do get redshirted, I just look at it as motivation for next year when I start playing,” he said. “If I do get redshirted, I plan to start my redshirt freshman year because I will work hard toward that goal.

“But I don’t know what’s gonna happen yet. I’m just ready to get up there and get to work.”

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Contact Nick Bowton at nbowton@salisburypost.com.

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