York High's Khalid Dorsey leads resurgent Bearcats program, attracts major college offers

Patrick Strohecker
York Dispatch
  • York High's Khalid Dorsey holds scholarship offers to Howard, Bryant and Millersville.
  • Dorsey currently leads the Y-A League with 706 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.
  • Dorsey could become the first Bearcat football player to commit to a D-I school since 2009.

Khalid Dorsey sees daylight.

The York High senior running back doesn't need much of a hole to break off a long run, but when he gets one from his offensive line and hits it, good luck catching him.

On this night, Friday, Sept. 15, during a Week 3 game against Cedar Cliff, Dorsey showcases his breakaway speed on numerous occasions. He rips off an 80-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and then an 81-yard TD run in the third quarter to tie the game at 28-28. Then, for his final act, he turned what appeared to be a measly 5-yard run, which would've set up fourth down, into a 40-yard highlight-reel jaunt, full of broken tackles and jukes, finally requiring a pair of defenders to bring him down.

York High's Khalid Dorsey runs the ball for a touchdown during football action against Cedar Cliff at Smalls Field in York City, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. York High would win the game 48-28. Dawn J. Sagert photo

It was the exact kind of run that has made Dorsey the York-Adams League's top running back and someone who will surely play in college.

"I only need a little bit of space," Dorsey said after Friday's game. "Once my line gets me that little hole, I try to hit it. If I do hit it, it's time to catch me."

D-I products from York High: At the moment, Dorsey holds three scholarship offers to play in college, two of which are at the NCAA Division I level in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). 

He holds offers from Howard University (Washington, D.C.) and Bryant University (Rhode Island) at the FCS level and a Division II offer from nearby Millersville. 

Dorsey isn't alone in being an über-talented athlete to roll through the Bearcats' football program. Kids of his skill have always been plentiful at the school, but in recent years, it never materialized into playing at the major college level.

Most recently, James Way III, a 2015 graduate, committed to play at Division II Kutztown, but it's been even longer since there's been a player from the program that had the chance to go D-I.

In the early- to mid-2000s, a slew of York High football players earned scholarships at college's highest level. From 2004 to 2009, five players continued on from the Bearcats to play D-I football — offensive lineman Will Beatty (2004 grad, UConn); wide receiver/defensive back Knowledge Timmons (2005 grad, Penn State); offensive lineman Ricahrd Muldrow (2007 grad, Rutgers, later transferred to Richmond); offensive lineman Greg Gaskins (2007 grad, Pitt); and wide receiver Malik Generett (2009 grad, UConn).

Since Generett, however, the Division I — and for the most part, college prospect pool — has dried out. Now, Dorsey is leading the way for the next generation of football talent at York High.

York High running back Khalid Dorsey (21) makes a move on a defender during York High vs Cedar Cliff football action at Smalls Field in York City, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. York High would win the game 48-28. The Bearcats being Division I play with a showdown against Red Lion, which is also 3-0. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Escaping the streets: Dorsey is part of a new breed of football player to come through the Bearcats' program that has made it relevant again around York County. After winning just one game combined in 2015 and 2016, the Bearcats are off to a 3-0 start this season and will face another 3-0 team on Friday night, Sept. 22, when they travel to Red Lion for an early-season York-Adams Division I showdown.

It has as much to do with what the players do on the field as what they don't do off of it.

In 2016, there were nine homicides in York City. Members of the football team weren't excluded from the violence, as Eugene Hillian IV was one of those murdered in 2016.

"You just gotta stay out of the streets and stay focused," Dorsey said during an interview back in August. "You gotta have tunnel vision and block everything out because a lot of my friends, they try to get me to smoke or drink and stuff like that and I’m like, ‘Nah, chill.’ I’m focused on one thing.”

The perception around the program has changed, though. There's an added emphasis on academics, which, along with talent, will get you the chances to play in college. Head coach Russ Stoner has preached that since taking over the team before the 2016 season, and it's a concept that's stuck, not just with Dorsey, but with many of the other team members.

Love for the game: The 5-foot-11, 160-pound Dorsey is focused on football. Since he started playing for the Wellington Panthers at the age of 8, it's what he thinks about when he's at home. If he's bored, he'll call up coach Stoner to ask what they'll be working on in practice the next day.

Dorsey runs track for the high school, along with several of his teammates. Football, however, will always be his top priority. Last year, he skipped a track meet to attend a college prospects camp, where he received his first scholarship offer.

The chance to use football to escape a city that can make you feel trapped can be life-changing for someone such as Dorsey. It could provide him with untold opportunities.

"I think it’s life-changing and it’s life-changing because, when he leaves, gets his education, graduates from college and does all the things that he does, when he has his own family, the expectations are going to be that his kids go to college," Stoner said. "So, it’s a family life-changing event for him. …I think that’s a huge deal.”

"I'm very proud of you," said York High Coach David Graybill, right, to running back Khalid Dorsey following a play during football action against Cedar Cliff at Smalls Field in York City, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. York High would win the game 48-28. Dawn J. Sagert photo

More to follow: The way things are going, Dorsey won't be the only member of this Bearcats team to play in college.

This year's group is full of athletes who appear willing to put in the time and effort to get better, both on the field and in the classroom. The last couple of years have been a turning point in the direction of the program, and Dorsey will likely head the line of players going on to play at the next level.

"Having Dorsey here as a FCS-caliber kid is humongous," Stoner said. "...We might have one or two (Football Bowl Subdivision) players on this team, but you have to practice that way. …But, obviously, Dorsey’s legacy could be gigantic here.” 

At the moment, Dorsey leads the Y-A League in rushing, totaling 706 yards in three games, while scoring eight touchdowns. He's done all of that on just 58 carries, good for a 12.2 yard-per-carry average.

During the preseason, Dorsey said he'd like to make his college choice shortly following Week 3, so the decision should come soon.

Dorsey sees daylight and, like we've witnessed so many times before on the field, when he chases after it, good luck trying to catch him.

— Reach Patrick Strohecker at pstrohecker@yorkdispatch.com.