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2022 Roundtable AOY finalist: West's Taco Dowler

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Posted at 4:49 PM, May 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-13 18:49:29-04

(Editor's note: MTN Sports is featuring a Midland Roundtable Athlete of the Year finalist nightly leading into this year's awards banquet Wednesday, May 18, at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center. Ten graduating seniors (five boys, five girls) in Billings are nominated annually by coaches and activities directors before Roundtable members, a group of longtime sports enthusiasts in Billings, vote on one male and one female winner. In rare instances, the award has been shared.)

BILLINGS - West High's McLean Dowler is tough to catch.

Oops, most everybody, including friends closest to him, only know him as Taco. The the story behind his name change (around age two, he says) goes like this, as told to MTN Sports a couple years ago.

“My dad said, ‘What do you want for breakfast, McLean?’ That's my real name. And I said, ‘My name’s Taco.’ And Caden said, ‘My name’s Burrito.’ So Caden was Burrito for like six months and I was Taco."

Okay, Taco it is. Though twin brother Caden likely hasn't been called Burrito since around 2006.

They're both headed to Montana State on football scholarships.

Speed and soft hands sum up Taco's career at West, where he's the school's all-time leading receiver. He's also Montana's current Gatorade Football Player of the Year and says he patterns his game after another undersized speed demon with the same Gatorade title.

"Gabe Sulser. That's exactly who I try to play like," Taco told MTN Sports. "It's weird because I'm a West kid and he's a Senior kid, but I admire him and that's what I wanted to be like."

Sulser actually just transferred from the Griz to the University of Texas as a grad player.

Taco, in the meantime, has 10 combined varsity letters in football, basketball, and track where he'll chase gold at the end of this month.

Ironically, in his free time, the speedster admits you'll often find him at a standstill — binge-watching Netflix.

"I've watched about every single thing you can watch on there," he said with a smile. "Even girl shows. I watched Selling Sunset which is about girl Realtors in California."

The series is five seasons long and Taco says he's burned through every one.

Much like defenders on the football field.

*****

Male finalists: Isaiah Claunch (West), Caden Dowler (West), Taco Dowler (West), Drake Rhodes (West), Payton Sanders (Skyview).

Female finalists: Brooke Berry (Skyview), Kaitlin Grossman (West), Mya Hansen (Central), Kennedy Venner (Senior), Jaeden Wolff (West).