Aidan Dooley has learned a lot about football from his older brothers.
One tip they surely passed on was stay away from big hits from linemen.
In his very first start for Father Judge High School, the quarterback didn’t fully take that advice. But it wasn’t because he didn’t get away from the pass rush.
After throwing an 82-yard scoring strike to teammate Dan Foy, Dooley was looking for anyone to celebrate with. He found it in massive lineman Mike Waring and the two tried a running chest bump. Next thing he knew, Dooley was staring at the clouds.
“I didn’t know how hard we were going to do it, but it felt good,” Dooley said. “I was just so excited, he was excited. He protected me all day, the whole line did. But I did take a good hit.”
Dooley was speaking after his starting debut for the Crusaders, and he did a lot to be happy about.
He threw for three touchdowns, rushed for two, and accounted for more than 400 yards of total offense (331 yards passing, 76 rushing), which are great numbers. But it wasn’t enough as the Crusaders fell to Lansdale Catholic in both teams’ season debuts.
It also marked the first game for new Judge coach Frank McArdle.
Another offensive star was Foy, who accounted for 213 yards and two of the touchdowns.
Dooley has played and started for Judge prior to this season. Last year he played safety, while his older brother Shane was the starting quarterback.
Shane is now at West Chester University where he backs up Paul, the eldest brother.
Football certainly bonds the brothers, but they are very close on and off the field.
Even on game day, Dooley was in touch with his brothers.
“They had a scrimmage today, but even before that, they were texting me to wish me luck,” Dooley said. “We’re really close. I’ve learned so much from them. I didn’t get any updates on the scrimmage, my phone was charging, but I’m sure they did really good. They’re both really good. They’ll do well together.
“Shane was here last year and he helped me so much. I learned a lot by watching them, but they always wanted to help me get better.”
After one game, it’s fair to say they’re both great teachers.
But Dooley won’t give his brothers all the credit. He has to share a lot of the accolades with his teammates.
“I don’t think a lot of people know about our guys, but we have really good wide receivers and even great running backs,” Dooley said. “A lot of people didn’t know them, so they don’t get the credit they deserve, but they’re really good.
“And the line is really good. There are some really good guys blocking. They really helped us today, they gave us what we needed.”
Dooley also is happy about his new coach, whom he works closely with. And even though McArdle came from enemy territory, he thinks there’s big things in store for the Crusaders under the former Ryan coach.
“I knew he was going to be great the first time I met him after he became coach,” Dooley said. “He lets you know from the beginning he has your back and he really does. Everyone wants to play for him because he has your back.”
The respect is mutual.
For the past few years, McArdle had to scheme ways to keep Shane from shredding him. Now he’s happy he has a Dooley in his huddle.
“Aidan is a great kid, he comes from a great family,” McArdle said. “I knew how good Shane was, and Aidan is just like him. Great player, he did a lot of good things.”
Dooley did good things last year, not just in football but in basketball. And he hopes to do the same, but just like in football, he’ll be doing it from a different position.
Last year, he started at shooting guard for the Crusaders and he was third on the team in scoring. This year, his scoring totals might go down but he’ll play a huge role in the success of the team.
“I’m moving to point guard,” Dooley said. “I played shooting guard mostly all the time, but I did play a little point. I like playing point. I like getting everyone involved.”
That’s the plan for football, too.
While Aidan is more than capable of running, his best way of moving the ball is getting it to his teammates. And while starting the season with a loss wasn’t the best way to get going, he believes things will get better and he hopes it starts Friday when the Crusaders travel to play at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.
“I think we can have a really good season,” Dooley said. “We made mistakes today. It was fun to score 42 points, but I’d be much happier if we didn’t but won. The only thing I want to do is win. That’s the main thing we want. We want to win as a team.
“We put in a lot of new things with the new coaching staff, so we’ll do better. We are going to be a lot better, and we’ll work to fix the mistakes they made.”
The biggest thing he can work on is staying away from charging linemen during celebrations.