SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — San Juan Hills wide receiver Dashiel Ross jogged out to the field last Friday against San Clemente.
He lined up in the slot and, early in the fourth quarter, he caught a 5-yard touchdown pass.
But while Ross’ performance was a silver lining to a 35-7 loss to the Tritons, his head coach knows how much Ross’ humility has meant to the Stallions this past week.
That’s because Ross hasn’t always been a wide receiver.
FROM QB TO WIDE OUT
Ross transferred to San Juan Hills from Saddleback Valley Christian looking to play quarterback.
As a junior, he lost the quarterback battle in fall camp to three-year starter Hudson Jones.
After spending last season as Jones’ backup, Stallions coach Rob Frith couldn’t let Ross’ talents go to waste standing on the sidelines.
So he had an idea.
“I thought about it and inside wide receiver was perfect for him,” Frith said. “He is tough as nails, he is not afraid to go over the middle and make the tough catches.”
When approached with the idea, Ross’ response was straight to the point.
“I want to do whatever I can for the team,” Ross said.
While Ross has played football his entire life and has played multiple positions over the years, the joy he gets playing wide receiver comes because of the chance to be physical out on the field.
“Even when there are run plays, I can go out and block,” Ross said. “It feels like I am really playing football.”
His wide receiver coaches Tony Pena and Rocky Brown both not only complimented Ross on his work ethic but his ability to pick up the position quickly.
“He’s just a natural fit,” Brown said.
Ross entered the San Clemente game with just 35 yards receiving over the first two games. He finished Friday with seven catches for 63 yards and the touchdown after San Juan Hills sidelined receivers Braden Pegan and Cole Monach with injuries the previous week against Capo Valley.
Even though the two competed against each other for the starting quarterback job, since the coronavirus pandemic started, Jones said the two bonded during quarantine and have sparked a good friendship.
“He’s just so smart and knows where to go,” Jones said. “A lot of what we ran were option routes and we were on the same page. He’s just so reliable.”
A CULTURE GROWING
Frith watched his senior move positions without hesitation and, in the process, has seen a culture built around humility taking shape at San Juan Hills.
“When you are humble, it doesn’t mean you’re thinking any less of yourself, you are just thinking less about yourself,” Frith tells his players.
But as a coach, Frith is also learning how important his players buy into that culture for coaching purposes.
“Sometimes (as a coach), you need to think outside the box,” Frith said. “It’s not as easy as next man up, next man up, next man up. Sometimes that might not be there, so you need to find a guy that can stay humble and say ‘You are the man we need.’”
Asking a quarterback to move to wide receiver has happened at all levels of football.
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman played quarterback at Kent State before he was drafted.
Pena formally coached at Mater Dei and saw the same quarterback-to-wide receiver change there.
He said it’s common because quarterbacks are so used to having the ball in their hands.
“They want to be the guy that gets their number called,” Pena said. “Like Dashiel for instance, he just embraces the moment.”
Frith said Pegan and Monach will play this week against Mission Viejo but Ross will line up right alongside his teammates as the slot receiver.
He might not be a quarterback anymore, but now he’s writing a new chapter of his football career where his coaches say his potential can take him to a college football career.
And his mindset will never change.
“‘I’m just a football player,” Ross said. “I’ll go wherever they need me.”