By Robert Bettmann
St. John’s quarterback Kevin Doyle has been named 2017’s Gatorade D.C. football player of the year in recognition of his exceptional season with the Cadets, this year’s Washington Catholic Athletic Conference champions.
Doyle threw for 2,204 yards while completing 62 percent of his passes with 22 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He has committed to play at the University of Michigan next year, under star coach Jim Harbaugh, former head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Gatorade’s Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross-country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track and field. The program selects one National Player of the Year in each sport.
St. John’s head coach Joe Casamento had strong praise for his quarterback. The Cadets’ success, Casamento added, resulted from relationships among the team’s 52 members and not from any one player’s individual talent — a point Doyle recognized.
“One of the things that’s hard for people to understand, and that Kevin did well, was to fit in with his offensive teammates, and to work together, and not try to make himself special,” said Casamento. “I think that’s one of the reasons why we were successful. The kids all understood their roles, and they did a great job performing their role. And you put that all together and it works well.”
Doyle transferred to St. John’s last year, for his junior year, and made considerable improvement between his junior and senior year.
“I’ve met a lot of quarterbacks,” Casamento said. “When I meet a quarterback, the first thing is, ‘Is he a competitor?’ But the second thing is, ‘Is he a leader?’ And a leader is someone who can put someone else first, and can trust other people, and makes them feel comfortable and part of it all. He goes out there every day to do his job. It’s not like he’s a star. And he worked hard at it — at understanding what we do and how we do it. And it all worked out well for us.”
2017 was Casamento’s second season as the St. John’s head coach. He came to the school in late 2014, recruited by St. John’s alumnus and donor Kevin Plank, the billionaire founder of Under Armour, and was promoted from assistant to head coach following the Cadets’ disappointing 7-4 season in 2015. The team went 8-4 in the next year, and then 9-2 in 2017 while taking the WCAC championship, with Doyle’s award-winning performance.
For St. John’s, it was the first football title since 1989.
“We were pretty good this year,” the coach said. “We lost to two of the best teams in the country by a total of eight points.” Without those narrow defeats against unusually tough competition, Casamento noted, “we’re undefeated.”
In a statement provided to The Current, St. John’s athletic director Brian Griffin wrote, “Kevin Doyle has done a tremendous job as a student-athlete. He is a hard worker, great competitor and humble leader. We are proud that he received the Gatorade DC Player of the Year Award for his performance in terms of athletic excellence, academic achievement and exemplary character.”