EHS lineman Josh Alexander, left, and defensive end Noah Castor try to bring down Hamilton West quarterback Hezekiah Patterson during a 16-12 loss on Oct. 22, 2016 at Hamilton. (Photo by Martin Griff.)
EHS lineman Josh Alexander, left, and defensive end Noah Castor try to bring down Hamilton West quarterback Hezekiah Patterson during a 16-12 loss on Oct. 22, 2016 at Hamilton. (Photo by Martin Griff.)

Edamiyon Doggett was just looking for the best chance to play when he made a position change as a freshman. It couldn’t have worked out any better for the Ewing High School quarterback.

“I’d been a running back,” said Doggett, a senior. “I didn’t start playing quarterback until my freshman year at Nottingham. I lived in Ewing for my middle school days then moved to Nottingham over in Hamilton. I was the new kid. I looked for the best positon that had less competition. I figured other kids had been there and the coach knew them, so I just went over to the quarterback position and went from there. I just stayed.”

Doggett returned to Ewing the next year, and he has been the Blue Devils starting quarterback ever since.

His experience is a key to Ewing’s 4-3 record. As of press time, the team was in second place with two games to go in Central Jersey Group III and likely to make the playoffs for the first time in Doggett’s career.

“Edamiyon has total control of the offense,” said Ewing head coach Drew Besler. “He slows it down for everyone else. He’s like having another coach on the field. If there’s an issue where a play is called wrong or a kid is lined up wrong, he can make the adjustment at the line where he’ll move a kid or identify a spacing error.”

Doggett helped the Blue Devils get off to their best start since a 5-0 beginning to 2010. After wins over West Windsor-Plainsboro South, Pemberton and Nottingham, Ewing fell at the hands of Willingboro. They bounced back on Oct. 8 with a 49-21 demolition of previously unbeaten Lawrence.

“It was really big,” said Doggett, who passed for 170 yards and a touchdown and ran for 77 yards and another score. “Lawrence is a rival game so we had to be prepared. Everybody wants to see that matchup and the rivalry between the two schools. It was big because we needed this win. We didn’t want to lose two straight games. We wanted to prepare ourselves for what was coming in the next couple games and then off to the playoffs.”

Ewing suffered a tough loss to Hamilton West, 16-12, on Oct. 22. This came a week after a 43-0 setback against Burlington Township on Oct. 14. The team finishes up the regular season at Princeton on Saturday, Oct. 29 and home against Hightstown on Friday, Nov. 4.

Doggett’s maturation has helped to put the Blue Devils over the top. Last year, Ewing went to the no-huddle offense for the first time and he’s proven effective as a thrower and runner in the fast-paced offense.

“I could tell by the summer we were going to be strong,” Doggett said. “I got my whole offensive line back, so on the offensive side we were just seeing if we could make plays with our running backs and receivers.”

They made plenty of plays in the win over Lawrence. Tyquan Parker returned the opening kick 77 yards for a touchdown, and after Lawrence tied it, 7-7, Ewing exploded with a bit of everything for a 28-0 second-quarter advantage. Lavinsky Collins scored on a 3-yard run, Doggett hit Corey McKinnon for a 48-yard touchdown pass, Stanley Derry returned an interception 45 yards for a score and Doggett ran another touchdown in from 5 yards out.

“I’ve argued all summer, Edamiynan Doggett is a Player of the Year candidate,” Besler said. “The kid’s already thrown for over 1,000 yards, and he’s a part of 14 touchdowns. He’s accounting for a lot of our offense. He’s an excellent leader. We have excellent pieces around him. This is as deep as we’ve been at wide receiver. We can go four or five wide, and there’s not a weak link out there. It’s one of those things where we’re a matchup problem. That’s what’s really helped us offensively.

“Defensively, we’re just flying around and being aggressive and we’re blitzing a little more this year than in years past. And with the pressure and really maintaining gap integrity and having a game plan to try to take away their best asset has really helped us.”

The showdown that was supposed to be never developed. Ewing maintained its 28-point edge through an even second half for a decisive victory.

“I say it wasn’t close because most teams in the Mercer County area, they don’t have a no-huddle,” Doggett said. “So I think they were mostly gassed by the no-huddle, how fast we were going and the different formations we were throwing at them, the different type of speed level and ability we had.”

Ewing had great balance with 170 yards passing from Doggett to go with 179 yard rushing. Collins led the way rushing with 84 yards but Michael Robinson and Tyquan Parker also scored rushing touchdowns. McKinnon led the receiving corps with 71 yards of catches, Terrance Stokes II had one big catch for 556 yards, Collins made a 27-yard reception and Teylor Gordy had a 16-yard reception.

“They’re very helpful,” Doggett said. “Most of these weapons are young guys, sophomores and juniors. It’s very good that they’re able to play at a higher level right now. They have one or two more years to do it when I’m gone. That’s big. Now they have learning experience and they know certain situations, what to do right.”

Doggett sees plenty of growth in his own game. He has developed over the years, and feels like a veteran signal-caller regardless of the situation.

“I see a lot different from a couple years ago,” he said. “I wasn’t vocal. I wasn’t telling people what they should be doing, how open they should be or how to block correctly. Now in my last year, I know specifically where everyone should be lined up, how they should be blocking on a certain play, a lot of things on the offensive side, I’m a captain on the offensive side, being able to call certain plays and how to get techniques right. It’s a big change from my sophomore year to senior year.”

His growth has shown the brightest in the big spots. He’s proven that he knows how to win the competitive games this year.

“We lost close games that should have been won,” Doggett said of previous years. “We had the ball in the last couple minutes but couldn’t score, it didn’t turn out our way. Back in sophomore and junior year, I didn’t know how to manage the clock well or not force a pass and when just to go down. Now that I’m older, I understand clock management and when to go down and not give up that costly pick.”

With his growth has come a change in his confidence. He can take the pressure that comes with playing the most visible position in the game, and he thrives on leading his teammates.

“They see how hard I was working in the offseason and they look up to me and the plays I make,” Doggett said. “It revolves around what I do. Everyone wants to look up to what I’m doing and how I’m doing things. They want me to take them as far as we can go.”

The Blue Devils learned as much from their one loss as they have from their wins. They came out flat against Willingboro and didn’t recover in time to come back. They turned it around quickly against Lawrence to get back on track.

“We should be right where we’re at now,” Doggett said. “I see how these guys want it and are dedicated to the game. The work ethic is there. We just need to pick it up and be more focused.”

“Coming from a team that’s been for the past two years 4-6, it’s not a good feeling to play a consolation game,” Doggett added.

With an experienced Doggett and plenty of talent around him on both sides of the ball, Ewing is looking like a strong contender this season.

“If we play disciplined football and protect the ball, moving forward, we’ll be a tough out for anybody,” Besler said. “If we take care of the little things, maybe the big things will happen.”

That would cap quite a year for Ewing and quite a career for Edamiyon Doggett, who is hoping to play in college. Doggett has interest from a range of schools, and he’s open to switching from the quarterback position that he’s mastered over four years.

“I’ll play wherever,” Doggett said. “I just want to get on the field.”