Emergence of QB Dumas keying Paetow’s success
KATY—During Paetow’s bi-district playoff win against Baytown Lee last season, then-junior quarterback C.J. Dumas Jr. took off on a run before going out of bounds right as an oncoming defensive back loomed.
It was at that point, as Dumas returned to the sideline, that coach B.J. Gotte said the two had a “come to Jesus” meeting.
“He stepped out and didn’t really lower his shoulder and get after it,” Gotte recalled Tuesday afternoon. “I had some words of encouragement for him on the sideline, as in, ‘Hey, if you want to be the man, be the man.’ After that game, you could see a difference in the way he carried himself.”
Unfortunately for the Panthers, there would be no next game. They were forced to forfeit their area playoff game due to a rash of COVID-19 cases. But the lesson proved vital for Dumas.
Now a senior and captain for a 14-1 Paetow team heading into the Class 5A-Division I state title game Friday against College Station, Dumas has matured into the quarterback he and Gotte always envisioned when he won the starting job as a sophomore in 2019.
“He understood if he was going to be the quarterback he wanted to be, he was going to have to do more,” Gotte said. “And he has.”
Dumas has completed 61.1 percent of his passes for 2,032 yards and 28 touchdowns to nine interceptions this season. He’s also carried the ball 26 times for 29 yards and three more touchdowns.
Even now, a year later, the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder credits that Lee run and its aftermath for changing his entire perspective.
“I still remember that exact moment,” Dumas said. “Coach has always been very protective of me, but he pushed me to have more confidence in running the ball and running hard.”
From the moment he met Dumas as an eighth grader, Gotte respected the youngster’s ambition.
“He’s grown so much in every facet of his game, from his ability to play the position to the understanding of it to the leadership aspect and the performance aspect and the mechanical aspect,” Gotte said. “It’s because of his commitment to his craft, and it’s something I’m proud of him for and impressed by.”
Paetow senior quarterback C.J. Dumas Jr.Bradley Collier | VYPE Media
Dumas said accuracy has been his most significant improvement skill-wise. At first, he was just throwing the ball, almost with no understanding of why he was throwing it or to whom. But as he grew into the offense, Dumas made smart decisions much more often than not.
Still, Dumas said it’s leadership, on and off the field, that is primarily responsible for how far he’s come.
Generally a reserved, respectful young man who is soft-spoken around others, Dumas had to get comfortable leading. Directing a huddle. Telling others what to do. Speaking up. Yelling. Praising and scolding teammates when needed.
It was not easy.
“As a freshman trying to win that starting job for my sophomore year, I felt like it wasn’t my spot to speak and tell people what to do, considering there was a quarterback above me and seniors around,” Dumas said. “But when you’re outworking everybody, finishing every rep hard and cheering everybody on, that stuff kind of just comes naturally to you. That’s what I realized. It doesn’t matter if you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior. You can use your voice and lead if you feel like it’s needed.”
Dumas’s epiphany carried over from spring ball his freshman year to fall camp his sophomore year. Since then, he has thrived. He was named a team captain by his peers each of the last two seasons.
“I’m not the most boisterous guy,” he said. “But growing through this system, I’ve learned that using your voice isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as you know how and when to use it.”
CJ( Canon💥)Dumas '22 QB Paetow High School (Katy) Texas www.youtube.com
Dumas’s leadership was on full display the last two weeks.
In the Panthers’ 35-12 regional final win over Hightower two weeks ago, Dumas played poorly. He completed three of 14 passes for 30 yards and no touchdowns to three interceptions. Paetow won thanks in large part to senior running back Jacob Brown, who rushed for a program-best 346 yards and five touchdowns.
“At this point in the playoffs, it’s just about winning games,” Dumas said. “As time started ticking down (in the regional final), I was Jacob’s biggest fan. That was his game. Me sitting to the side and pouting wouldn’t have been good for the team. It’s about realizing that you’re not going to have great games all the time. At this point in the year, it’s about winning and bouncing back.”
Bounce back, he did. Dumas secured the Panthers’ ticket to the state title game the following week with a lights-out performance in a 73-14 state semifinal win over Corpus Christi Flour Bluff on Friday, completing 11 of 13 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns to no interceptions.
“One game doesn’t define you, so I went back out and played my game,” Dumas said. “I know I’m capable of putting up numbers like I did last week every week. It’s a matter of going out and showing it.”
It was the kind of response Gotte has come to expect from his signal-caller.
“I’ve been impressed in how he’s turned the corner and the confidence he’s developed in himself in the last year,” Gotte said.
And now Dumas has Paetow on the brink of a state championship.
“I’ve worked really hard throughout my entire life to get to this point,” Dumas said. “If you saw me as a freshman, I don’t think a lot of people would think I’d be in the position that I’m in now. It’s great to know all my hard work has paid off, but I wouldn’t be able to do it without the great guys around me and the great coaching staff I have.”