July 23, 2010

Dorman has success in the shadows

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Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.
HOOVER, Ala. - There is a team in South Carolina that has won 27 of its last 29 games.

It has won state titles and been ranked in the Top 25 nationally in the RivalsHigh 100.

And it isn't Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes.

The Roebuck (S.C.) Dorman Cavaliers are an upstate team that has had success in bunches, but many times has to do it inside the constraints of the large shadow cast by one of the most publically traded name-brand teams in high school football.

"Byrnes has done a lot of really good things for South Carolina high school football," Dorman coach Dave Gutshall said. "Their successes have brought a lot of recognition to the rest of the state.

"Sometimes, though, it just irritates some people that their success is somewhat dependant on Byrnes."

It is a classic case of good programs who can't win.

Dorman knocked off Byrnes in the state title game last season, 28-17. The win avenged an early season 17-10 loss.

The game has left a bad taste in the mouth of both programs.

"I still have a sick feeling thinking about last year," Byrnes coach Chris Miller told RivalsHigh two weeks ago.

For Dorman, that taste is there too, but it is for something else altogether.

"I am sure those guys think it was a fluke," Gutshall said. "It wasn't. We aren't some team who snuck up and beat Byrnes. We have played them six times in three years. We have beat them before."

The flames of the rivalry are always being stoked.

"The communities have a dislike for one another," Gutshall said. "But I have known Bobby Bentley (the former head coach at Byrnes) and Chris (Miller) for almost the entire 17 years I have been here. We are not enemies. I have had coffee with both of those guys. But for our fans and their fans it means so much more."

Some may suggest it is jealousy, Dorman fans wanting the attention and the spotlight that Byrnes currently occupies.

According to Gutshall it is just merely one fan base wanting to level the perception playing field.

"We get it that Byrnes is our measuring stick," he said. "But we have faired very well against them. They are good for South Carolina football, but we are too."

One way to shift that perception is to follow the path that Byrnes has already blazed by playing more nationally relevant games.

"We have looked into some national games," Gutshall said. "But right now we have an 11-game contract season all locked up.

"We are not against playing those type games. We have even looked into a package deal with us and them (Byrnes) both traveling to take on teams from out-of-state. It just hasn't happened yet."

And it does not look as though it will happen anytime soon for Dorman.

The current alignment for teams places Dorman in the South Carolina Class AAAA Region II. Two of the Cavaliers' most fierce rivals, Gaffney (S.C.) High and Spartanburg (S.C.) High, are in Region III. Its third rival, Greenwood (S.C.) High is in Region I.

That alignment, according to Gutshall, is what is holding Dorman back from pursuing more national games.

"Those first three games are our money games," he said. "We can't give those up to play some team from outside this region. If the association would put Spartanburg and Gaffney back in our region like they should be, we would be out there more. We would have that freedom to use those non-league games to schedule out-of-state teams.

"The bottom line is that our fans would be more mad if we didn't play those teams than the fact we can't play a team from Florida."

For now, it seems, Dorman will have to continue to win and continue to be measured against Byrnes.

"Our fans are just tired of hearing about them," he said. "But we know that we can play with them. When they go and play with the teams from out of state, it also legitimizes us. We know we can play with anyone."

Knowing that and doing it are two different things, and two different problems.

"We will get out there. It is hard for us to schedule right now. Being as good as we have been, it makes it tough too. We know we can play with anyone. It has been a long time since we have been blown out of a game."

But it has also been a long time since people didn't think of Byrnes when they thought of South Carolina football.

And maybe that is what Dorman fans really want.

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