Dottolo getting starting role with Choctaws

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 11, 1999

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / October 11, 1999

LAPLACE – Like many high school stars, Jimmy Dottolo had visions of continuing that stardom once he stepped onto the college gridiron. Afterall, he had been a 1,000-yard rusher and a member of the all-state team at Riverside Academy and had helped lead the Rebels to the Class 2A state championship game his sophomore season.

But once Dottolo got to Mississippi College in 1996, he saw that it was a whole different game.

“The main thing was that everybody was bigger, stronger, faster,” Dottolo said. “Here, I have to pick and choose my moves. I can’t run over everylinebacker. I have to try to fake them out. The secondary is quicker. It’s abig jump from high school.”Dottolo has made that jump successfully and is now the leading rusher for a Mississippi College team that is looking to advance to the Division III playoffs.

Dottolo had pretty much his way with defenders while at Riverside. As asophomore, he rushed for 720 yards and a team-high 14 touchdowns in leading Riverside to the Class 2A state championship where they lost to Haynesville, 48-17. The following season, he again led the Rebels with 22touchdowns and with 1,300 yards on the ground.

Dottolo capped his career with 1,030 yards and 16 touchdowns, the latter tops in both the River Parishes and the metro area, in his senior season. Hewas named the offensive MVP in District 10-2A, the River Parishes and the metro area, named to the coaches’ second-team all-state team and was a nominee for the New Orleans Quarterback Club Player of the Year award.

Dottolo said playing for Riverside head football coach Mickey Roussel helped prepare him for the next level.

“He definitely gave me what I needed to play at the college level,” Dottolo said of Roussel. “All I learned at Riverside, the drills, the techniques,helped me. He demanded respect and that helped me out when I got here. Ihad respect for the coaches and practice and that was a reason I got to play early.”Dottolo got a number of offers coming out of school, especially from schools on the East Coast and the Midwest. But most of the schools eitherwanted him to play fullback or redshirt him. Then Mississippi Collegecame calling, offering him a full scholarship while offering him a chance to play early at tail back.

“I just wanted to play and play early and they gave me a chance to do that,” Dottolo said.

Dottolo did indeed get a lot of playing time as a freshman. That season, herushed for 337 yards and three touchdowns on 75 carries and was named the Choctaws Most Valuable Offensive Freshman in a vote by his teammates.

“It wasn’t something I expected,” Dottolo said of the award. “Myteammates voted on it so it was an honor to get it. It was a big thrill forme.”Dottolo followed that performance up by rushing for 343 yards and a touchdown on 45 carries, the third-highest rushing total on the team, as a sophomore. He also caught 16 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns.The Choctaws finished the season 8-2 and won the American Southwest Conference championship by beating Hardin-Simmons.

Dottolo led the team in rushing last year, carrying 173 times for 694 yards and six touchdowns as the Choctaws went 4-6 overall and finished fifth in the American Southwest Conference.

Mississippi College bounced back this season to open with three consecutive victories. Dottolo went into his senior season as the startingrunning back and gained a game-high 104 yards on 29 carries to help lead the Choctaws past Stillman College, 10-7, in overtime in the season opener.

With teams stacking the line to stop the run, Dottolo ran 13 times for 84 yards and a touchdown in a 38-21 victory over Belhaven College and 54 yards on 19 attempts in a 16-13 win at Jacksonville University. He had 18carries for 77 yards last Saturday but the Choctaws dropped their conference opener, 21-14, at Howard Payne.

Dottolo’s goal for the season is to lead the Choctaws to another conference championship and to the Division III playoffs for the first time in his career. Mississippi College missed out on the playoffs in 1997despite its 8-2 record when a 16-team playoff was used and those teams all going undefeated or finishing with one loss. With the field expanded to28 teams, Dottolo feels it will not take an undefeated season to go in although he says that was the team’s goal for the season.

“My individual goal is to rush for 1,000 yards,” Dottolo said. “But most ofmy goals are team-oriented. It’s more important to win the conference andthe national championship.”Mississippi College has an important game today, hosting defending conference champion and 10th-ranked Hardin-Simmons.

“It’s a big game,” Dottolo said. “It’s going to be a tough one. I’m lookingforward to it.”

WATKINS HELPS GA. TECH TO WIN – East St. John’s Kerry Watkinscaught two passes for 39 yards and a touchdown in Georgia Tech’s 49-31 victory over Maryland last Thursday night.

Destrehan’s Rondell Mealey carried 18 times for 25 yards and a touchdown and caught a team-high five passes for 43 yards in LSU’s 23-22 loss at No.

9-ranked Georgia Saturday.

St. James’ Derrick Elzy had three unassisted tackles, a forced fumble anda fumble recovery in Tulane’s 47-17 loss at 17th-ranked Syracuse. St.Charles Catholic’s Casey Roussel punted twice for 90 yards with a long of 55 yards. East St. John’s Ky Joseph had seven tackles, five unassisted, anda pass break-up for the Green Wave.

Lutcher’s Bradley Pittman had two unassisted tackles in Southern’s 21-6 win over No. 1-ranked Hampton in Indianapolis. East St. John’s T.J.Sutherland had one catch for 37 yards in Northwestern State’s 42-17 win over Nicholls State. Hahnville’s Kendall Joseph carried 15 times for 54yards for Nicholls State.

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