The Dawson County Tigers had a bye week last Friday, which also coincided with the school’s fall break. Sid Maxwell allowed his team the opportunity to let them rest and heal up, but come Monday it was back to the grind.
In each of coach Maxwell’s four seasons, he has recorded that total, thus accounting for one-third of such 6-plus win seasons. This could be the best version yet, with an offense that’s scoring 41.9 points per game, nearly four points higher than the record-setting 2016 group. The defense, which we deem “elite,” allows just 12.7 points per game, the best since the 1986 team (8.1).
“We as coaches have to adapt to our players, and we’re not the same team we used to be,” says Maxwell. “We play to our guys’ strengths, and right now we’re a run-oriented team. That’s what you’re trying to do – keep that level of expectation to compete, day in, day out.”
This comes despite a massive loss to the program by perhaps the greatest player in school history in Coey Watson, who left Dawson as one of the state’s all-time top dual threats, collecting over 100 total touchdowns. Even with him departing, the defense returned nearly the entire starting unit and a load of playmakers on both sides of the ball.
Seniors Sevaughn Clark (fielding many D-I offers) and Logan Barnes (Wofford commit) also recognize the level of success this Tigers team is enjoying.
“We just need to focus on ourselves,” says Barnes, who leads the defense with 75 tackles and 3 interceptions. “It doesn’t matter who we play, we play against ourselves. We do what we have to do.”
While it’s been special, Clark, who took over at the quarterback position after a breakout junior year in 2017 in which he was named all-state at the running back position, wasn’t quite ready to step in at QB right away – though he did so for the team, and is obviously enjoying the role. “Deep down I always knew I had to do it, but after junior year I just wanted to stay at running back. Spring came around, we looked at our options and they though that me playing QB was the best fit.”
“[Clark] took on that role very unselfishly,” states Maxwell. “You ask a guy who…is the leading rusher at Dawson County…and to give up his senior year and get less touches in order to keep us moving forward. He was the best option for us at quarterback. He still gets his runs in…he’s getting better and getting more comfortable at quarterback.”
Despite the loss, Clark says the game makes a statement for the Tigers.
“We can hang with anybody no matter what,” says Clark. “We’ve got one of best teams in [Dawson County] history.”
The offense is construed of Clark, who has 637 rushing yards and 12 TD, along with 506 passing yards with 5 TD. Senior transfer Ahmad Kamara has proven to be a perfect piece for Clark to utilize, as he leads the team with 786 rushing yards and 9 TD. Other weapons include the receiving corp, led by senior Ryan Glass (144 rec yds, 2 TD). But it’s the offensive line that all players on the Tigers agree are the keys to the success of the offense. The run game this year has been unprecedented for the Tigers.
“It’s all three phases that you have to keep building to have success,” says Maxwell in reference to his offense, defense and special teams. He also told the boys to enjoy the fall break, but be ready to get back to it starting this week. “I told the guys, you can be great, you can be comfortable, but you can’t be both.”
Dawson County closes the season with Fannin County, Cherokee Bluff and North Hall. This represents the last third of the season, but for teams like the Tigers, this might just be “half time,” as a deep playoff run toward a possible state title is quite foreseeable.