Quarterback Shane Dooley learned from his older brother Paul, a player at West Chester, and is ready to pass it on.
Shane Dooley learned from the best. And now he’s passing it on.
Dooley is a senior quarterback on the Father Judge High School football team and he’s preparing for his second year as the Crusaders’ starter at the position. He did start as a sophomore, but that was at defensive back.
Dooley came in with little experience at the varsity level last year, but he did have a huge advantage in the form of an older brother, Paul, who had been through high school football wars at the same position.
“He would help me anytime I had a question,” Dooley said of his brother, a 2015 graduate of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy who is now playing quarterback at West Chester. “He was good about helping me. I was lucky in that way.”
Almost as lucky as his younger brother Aidan, a sophomore and backup quarterback at Judge.
“He’s really good, and getting better,” Dooley said. “He plays defense, too. If he needs to play this year, he’ll be ready.”
The hope is Aidan gets in during some mop-up duty in relief because this year is the middle brother’s year to call the shots.
Last year, his first as a starter, Dooley managed the Crusaders’ huddle and did quite well, throwing for more than 1,600 yards and 18 touchdowns, according to Tedsilary.com, and this came while playing in the always-tough Catholic League Red Division. And to make it that much tougher, the Crusaders had an offensive line that was big and strong, but very inexperienced.
“They were mostly first-year starters like me, and they did great,” Dooley said. “We were all learning. Those guys always have my back, and I always have their back. But they were doing it against the best.
“It’s tough to get experience in our league. You’ll never just go out and win a game in our league, because every team is good. We go out and try to win every game, but we’re playing really good teams with Division I players.”
Dooley has been improving steadily, and a lot of that has to do with the experience he’s gained by getting on the field. He also gives a lot of credit to his coach, Mike McKay, who played quarterback at Judge and led the Crusaders to the 1975 city championship.
“I work with him a lot because he’s the head coach, the offensive coordinator and the quarterbacks coach, so at practice, I’m almost always with him,” Dooley said of McKay. “I love playing for him because, I don’t want to say he lets me do whatever I want, because he doesn’t, but he lets me do a lot. He lets me change the play if I see something, he lets me play to my strengths. He lets me do what I want as long as I’m doing what we need to do to win, and that’s what I try to do.”
Last year, Judge finished 1–4 in divisional play, 4–8 overall, but there were some bright spots, including the improvement of Dooley. He also found a great weapon in wideout Katob Joseph, who went for 1,100 yards from scrimmage and nine touchdowns. He also earned Second Team All-Catholic honors on both sides of the ball. He returns this year and will give Dooley a great first option. The better news is he also has plenty of other options to throw to.
“Katob is great, we are close on and off the field, we have some classes together,” Dooley said. “We had a connection last year, I would know where he was going to be and it worked. But there are a lot of guys on the team who are fast and who can catch. We’ve been working all summer. I might not have the same connection with them yet, but it’s almost there and it will definitely be there by the time we start playing.”
Judge opens the season on Friday at Ridley. The following week, the Crusaders play their first true home game when they play at Ramp Playground against Springside Chestnut Hill on Aug. 31. It will be the first time Judge plays at the field across the street from the school. They previously played home games at Northeast or Abraham Lincoln.
“I loved playing at Northeast, but this is a real home game for us,” Dooley said. “I don’t know what it will be like to play there, but I can’t wait for it. That will be a real home game for us.”
Dooley hopes the new home can also be the home of champions.
The league is as tough as ever with Prep predicted to be one of the best teams in the nation, and Wood, Ryan, La Salle and Carroll also returning some quality players. But the Crusaders are in position to have a very good year.
“I think we’re going to be really good this year,” Dooley said. “I think we have a great team. We have good players and our line is more experienced. That means a lot. I think I’ll get better and everyone else will get better.”
This is a huge year for Dooley, and not just on the football field.
In the winter, he’ll be the leader of the basketball team, where he has started in each of the past two years. He’ll also be looking to nail down a college, where he’ll continue his football career. Thus far, he’s heard from some state schools, but there’s a long season to impress scouts.
“I’m definitely more of a football player than basketball player,” said Dooley, who is unsure of a possible major in college. “I love basketball and want to have a good senior year, but next year I’ll be playing football. Not sure where yet, but I’ve talked to some coaches.
“I’m focused on winning at Judge and then we’ll see. I think we could have a really good season.”