SETTING THE FOUNDATION: Motley Learned From 2-9 Sophomore Season
The foundation was set during Christian Motley’s sophomore season. That is when he became a starter in the secondary for the Dallas Mountaineers.
It was a season that ended 2-9, with a loss to Wyoming Area in the first round of the district playoffs, 13-12. Dallas coach Rich Mannello showed enough confidence in that group that he elected to go for two points and the win with 19 seconds left in the game, rather than settle for the extra point and head to overtime.
“It was rough going 2-9, but every game we always gave it our all,” said Motley. “It was fun playing with those guys. That season taught us a lot of lessons. It taught us how to lose and deal with it. We didn’t like it, and we took the steps to try and not have that taste in our mouths.”
That season was a season of transition for the Dallas football program. There were times the Mountaineers had between nine and 11 freshmen and sophomores on the field, getting their feet wet on the varsity level. It was also a year Mannello and the rest of the underclassmen believed would pay dividends down the road.
Last season, the Mountaineers saw glimpses of it, finishing 7-4 but getting bounced from the district playoffs in the first round. Consider it another lesson learned, as well as something the returning players in the program had to think about the entire offseason, through the start of training camp as well as the regular season.
On Friday night, the Mountaineers head to Valley View to take on the undefeated Cougars in the District 2 Class 4A championship game with a berth in the state playoffs on the line.
“I think that helped a lot,” Motley recalled of the 2016 playoff loss to Wyoming Area and attempting the two-point conversion. “I’m not going to lie, if you put us in that situation again, I think we go for two. I think (Mannello) would do it again, too. I believe in him. He always makes the right calls. Last year was an upsetting way to go out. It was sad to see the seniors go out. We always worked to try and right that wrong.”
That meant more time spent in the weight room, working on strength and speed, something Motley, a corner on the defensive side of the ball, said can make up for a lot. Even though he is listed as 5-foot-5, 145 pounds, his strength and speed can make up for his lack of size out on the perimeter.
“I’ve been playing football my whole life,” Motley said. “I’m used to the other kids always being bigger than me. It helped me develop an attitude. It doesn’t really matter how big you are as long as you give it everything you have.”
While quarterbacks may see Motley’s size as an advantage or mismatch that could be exploited, it’s not always a guarantee the pass is going to be completed, or a few extra yards are going to be picked up should they elect to go Motley’s way.
An outstanding student who has reached honors with distinction for all but maybe two quarters during his academic career, and one that scored 1450 on the SAT, Motley also plays defender on the school’s lacrosse team.
He takes what he learns from the lacrosse field and utilizes it on the football field. He does the same with football when it comes time to play lacrosse.
“I’ve been a corner my whole life and I love covering passes,” Motley said. “Lacrosse taught me a lot about positioning on defense. The stuff I learned in lacrosse and how to play defense, I can transition over to football with press coverage. You just have to stay in front of the receiver.”
During those weight room sessions that can be directly linked to the Dallas football program’s success, Motley looks to make up for his lack of size by working on his vertical jump. He also likes to be physical with the receiver off the line of scrimmage, especially when lined up in press coverage.
He has intercepted two passes this year, one behind team-leaders Dylan Schuster and RJ Wren. He is also a threat in the passing game where he has seven catches for 132 yards and one touchdown.
While last week’s overtime win over Berwick was certainly something to be celebrated, the Mountaineers quickly turned the page and began focusing on the rematch with Valley View, the team to hand Dallas its only loss of the year.
In that 33-0 loss, the Mountaineers gave up two quick touchdowns in the third quarter to fall behind by 19 points and could never recover.
Consider that another lesson learned.
“Coach always tells us football is a sport that takes more than it gives,” Motley said. “We kind of came out flat the first time we played Valley View. They have a great team, and that is something you can’t do against a strong team like that. We are looking to change that, we just want to come out and play harder. When you are facing adversity, it is something you have to realize that you have to handle it if you want to succeed at what you set out to do.”
Contact the writer:
firstname.lastname@example.org; 570 821-2062;
@CVSteveBennett on Twitter