Quarterback Cyler Doran steps up as a leader for Fivay

“We did this to get to the playoffs. They need to stay focused 
on that.” Cyler 
Fivay junior quarterback
“We did this to get to the playoffs. They need to stay focused on that.” Cyler Doran, Fivay junior quarterback
Published Sep. 9, 2015

HUDSON — The changes for the Fivay High School football program have been many and constant over the past six months. Within that instability has been the calming presence of Cyler Doran.

The junior quarterback had his own ups and downs in his first two seasons with the Falcons. But entering his second full season as the starter, he embraced the leadership role.

With Chris Taylor, the only coach the school has ever known, taking over as athletic director, and the loss of Doran's top receiver and star running back to graduation, the team was in a difficult situation. With his back against the wall, Doran came out firing — literally.

New coach John Diehl planned to give his field general the reins of the offense from Day 1. Doran showed an ability to not only read defenses and find the right receiver down field, but to get the best out of the players around him.

"There's no quit in any of us, and Cyler shows that," Diehl said. "We win as a family, and we lose as a family, but we're never out of it."

This was no more evident than in the season opener against Hernando. Down 34-13 in front of the home crowd at the end of the third quarter, a victory to start the new campaign seemed unlikely.

Doran had other plans.

"I just reminded (the guys in the huddle) of practice and all the hard work that we put in," he said. "We did this to get to the playoffs. They need to stay focused on that."

Among the 34 points the team had surrendered was a pick-six off an interception thrown by Doran to Hernando's Austin Sternberger. The defensive back returned the turnover 50 yards for a touchdown. It was Doran's only interception of the game.

After back-to-back scoring drives and still down a touchdown, Doran took matters into his own hands on the goal line. He rushed for a 7-yard score to knot the game at 34 before finishing the comeback in overtime on a 15-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Caleb Kinsella.

At no point did Doran believe his team was out of the game, a stark contrast to the attitude on the Hernando sideline where most of the opposing players were confident the win was confirmed late in the third.

"After our season last year, the other guys started to listen," Doran said. "They weren't as ready last year because I was a sophomore, but I think they know now how much I want it, too."

The performance supported the belief that Diehl had in his quarterback when he started practice in early August. It also showed just how far Doran has come since his freshman season, one he spent as the starter on junior varsity before seeing limited snaps to end the varsity schedule, as well.

Doran was the front-runner for the starting job as a sophomore, a position he eventually clinched with his play in spring. The future looked bright as he threw for 12 touchdowns and only four interceptions in the first four games. The Falcons went 2-2 in that stretch, and Doran's success was highlighted by a 17-of-25, 405-yard, three-touchdown performance against Lecanto.

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In a loss to Springstead in Game 5, everything changed. Fivay did not win another game in 2014, finishing 2-8. Doran's overall numbers were solid, but his 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions were not what he was hoping for when the season began.

The program lost Doran's primary weapons, seniors Christian Coleman (1,265 yards rushing, nine touchdowns) and Trenton Soto (46 catches, 872 yards, 13 touchdowns). Then Taylor announced he was stepping down as coach, a position he had held since the school opened in 2010.

Questions about how the players would respond to all of the changes were answered by Doran. The 6-foot, 170-pounder looked far more comfortable as the vocal leader of the team, and he showed trust in his new receiving corps, including Dylan Hartley, Zach Burgarella and Kinsella.

When asked if Diehl believes Fivay and Doran's success will continue, he beamed about the prospect.

"Every week is going to be a challenge," he said, "but I feel like we'll be right there in the thick of things once it's all over."