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Gorman: Now they're clapping for him

| Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, 10:26 p.m.
Seneca Valley's Jonathan Dorogy gets loose against North Hills on Friday at Martorelli Stadium. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
Seneca Valley's Jon Dorogy gets loose on North Hills at Margarelli Stadium Oct. 12, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review

Jonathan Dorogy doesn't like to discuss the clapping, despite his appearance on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno, mostly because the Seneca Valley senior doesn't view it as his true talent.

“Kind of like those artists that say they never want to play that song again at their concert because it's the only song that made it on the radio and everyone wants to hear it and they're tired of playing it,” Raiders coach Don Holl said, “he's very reluctant to demonstrate the ability he has to clap so fast.”

Dorogy started speed clapping when he was 9 years old. As a freshman, he could do 14 claps a second. When a friend recorded a video for the school announcements, it became a YouTube hit that drew invites to appear on Leno, Ellen and Nickelodeon.

“I like it, but lately everyone is always like, ‘Clap for me,'” Dorogy said. “I always tell them my triceps are sore. Or I tell them I retired.”

So he has focused on football and flipped the script. Instead of clapping for everyone at Seneca Valley, Dorogy has everyone at Seneca Valley clapping for him.

Raiders fans have plenty of reasons to cheer Dorogy, who represents everything we love about Western Pennsylvania prep sports.

It's not because Dorogy is one of the smallest players on the field but rather because he's the most exciting.

“He's a big sleeper,” Seneca Valley quarterback Jordan Brown said. “People underestimate him because of his size, but he's really fast, and he's got a lot of heart.”

Dorogy is a 5-foot-8 — and that might be stretching it — 170-pound stick of dynamite who can explode on any play. He's not only the Raiders' fastest player but also one of their strongest, a member of the 300-500 Club for bench press and squat.

“I've heard it my whole life, even from my friends: You're too small,” Dorogy said. “That kind of fuels me. I like that role, the underdog.”

What clapping taught Dorogy is that he can accomplish anything. He isn't so much an overachiever as a high achiever who has a 4.12 grade-point average, starts in center field on Seneca Valley's two-time defending WPIAL Class AAA baseball champions and is a state-medalist sprinter in indoor track.

Overshadowed by Brown and Forrest Barnes on the football field, Dorogy does a little bit of everything: taking handoffs on sweeps and reverses, catching passes, covering receivers, making touchdown-saving tackles or serving as a special-teams demon whether covering kicks or returning them.

“In a lot of situations, he would be a go-to guy that would be The Guy on many teams,” Holl said of Dorogy, who had 19 catches for 341 yards and four touchdowns and 23 carries for 206 yards and two scores in the first six games.

“He's a threat to go at any time. He's a very fast, strong, powerful kid, just a playmaker. He's another one on that list that, if we're smart, we try to find ways to get him the ball as much as we can.”

Seneca Valley did just that Friday night at North Hills. On the second possession, Dorogy ran 5 yards for a first down, then caught a 45-yard pass on third-and-15 to move the Raiders across midfield and set up a field goal. He even completed a two-point conversion pass for a 26-19 halftime lead.

Dorogy added a 25-yard catch in the third quarter but lost a fumble that was returned 78 yards for a touchdown. He finished with 31 rushing yards on eight carries and four receptions for 79 yards in the 40-26 victory.

It's no wonder Dorogy's penchant for big plays has made him a favorite of Seneca Valley's student section this season.

“It gets the crowd fired up a little bit,” he said. “Whenever you have a good play, they chant your name.”

Dorogy delivers daggers off the field, too. He brings levity to the locker room with spot-on impersonations of teammates and tempers tension in the huddle by cracking jokes or talking in a high-pitched voice, traits that cannot be underestimated on a contender.

“Everybody loves him,” Brown said. “He's a character. He's a jokester, and he's funny. He's one of those energetic guys who gets the ball and scores and screams, then starts clapping.”

What else would you expect?

Whether getting As or making plays, Dorogy is giving people reason to cheer. Instead of asking him to clap, we should give him a hand.

Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at kgorman@tribweb.com or 412-320-7812.

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