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Dorsey High Loses in Semi-finals, Wins the Season
By E. Mesiyah McGinnis, Staff Writer
Published November 25, 2021

The Dons had a perfect 5-0 record in the Coliseum League and earned the top seed in the division I City Section playoffs (Photo E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

In an exclusive interview from L.A. Sentinel staff writer, E. Mesiyah McGinnis, Dorsey High School head coach, Stafon Johnson, assesses his first year and returning to the school that made him a high school legend and future star at USC.

E. Mesiyah McGinnis LAS: How do you access your first season (2021) as head coach at the very same school that helped you become a high school and college legend?

Top Photo: #13 running back and safety, Stafon Johnson, was a high school star for the Dorsey Dons. Bottom Photo: #13 Stafon Johnson enjoying USC’s Rose Bowl victory in 2006. (Courtesy photos)

 

Coach Stafon Johnson: As a young head coach, I was trying to get our players to buy into the Dorsey system and tradition like when I played here; the work ethic that makes them champions on the football field, in the classroom, and in life. 

We started with five players in June, most having never played football before, especially at a high level, but we just wanted to teach them football, knowing the life lessons would fall into place. 

The Dorsey Dons football team had a 10-3 overall record this season (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

So, starting with five players to a 55-team roster was challenging but from where they came from and how they are now, is an amazing experience to be a part of.

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The out-pour of love, the overwhelming support from the L.A. inner-city community and the DDP (Dorsey Don Posse) parents, fam, and alum, was major in supporting kids who were accustomed to failing, who were used to no one coming to see them play, but now experiencing this community showing up and telling these young people that they matter! 

Dorsey football head coach, Stafon Johnson (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

My coaching staff … we don’t make it without you through to a 10-3 season and semi-finals appearance.  We made a commitment and taught this team how to play; we guided these young men and showed them love, and how to have fun while playing football, to feel the love of football the way we did as players. 

We grew!  I grew, the kids grew!  I also want to thank the Pep Squad, Cheerleaders, the Band, the assistants on the field, the trainer, and Dorsey administration, teachers and staff, the groundskeepers, our amazing play-by-play announcer, Coach Black, and Rancho Park for the village that you are. You all made a huge impact.  

According to Johnson, the Dorsey coaches committed to not only coaching football but also teaching life lessons.     (E. Mesiyah McGinnis / L.A. Sentinel)

I used a lot of my experiences to help me throughout the year to utilize the knowledge and high level of competitiveness I learned from my former USC coach, Pete Carrol, who brought that intensity every day.  And I try my best to mimic the coolness of my former Dorsey coach, Paul Knox, who even under extreme pressure and heat, I never saw him lose composure. 

The Dorsey High School Dons take the win against neighborhood rival, Crenshaw Cougars, at Crenshaw Memorial Stadium in South L.A. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis / L.A Sentinel)

I’m trying my best to do that but these refs!  Just kidding, it was great playing with these officials; they care about the kids and are literally coaching them on the field, and I really appreciate them. 

The biggest test we had this year was being down by 21 points but winning in double overtime in the quarter-finals against Cleveland High School.  Look at God!  I lot of the adversity these kids battle through, they needed that, to experience hard-fought losses and victories but in the end, understand it’s just a game and life moves on. 

Dorsey High football team huddles on the Jackie Robinson Stadium field during the 2021 season. Photo E. Mesiyah McGinnis / L.A. Sentinel

I want to thank the teams we played against and the coaches for the high level of competition.  Together, we taught these young men to compete, but win or lose, shake hands and respect each other. 

“I am here to win; I hate losing.” – Coach Stafon johnson. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis / L.A. Sentinel)

My parents have supported me since I was in Pop Warner and I thank my mom for going back to team mom mode and just being a supportive anchor.  And to my dad who has always been a major supporter, my family, and the loyal friends who supported this team throughout the season.  

To my players, I watched you become a true team. I love you.  I would like to add that we had no ineligible players, five 4.0 GPA students, and eight with D1 college offers; this achievement with a group of kids who didn’t have 1-star rating combined in the preseason rankings by national scouts and analysts.  The future is very bright for Dorsey High football.  – Coach Stafon Johnson

The Dorsey Dons started with five players and ended up with a 55-player roster with 100% vaccinations.  (E. Mesiyah McGinnis / L.A Sentinel)

 

 

 

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Additional Photos by E. Mesiyah McGinnis / L.A. Sentinel

The Dorsey Don Cheerleaders, Pep Squad, and Band supported the team and inspired the crowd with their enthusiasm and high-level performances. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis / L.A Sentinel)

This story has been updated with images and copy.

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