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FOOTBALL: Tigers ramp up intensity before season begins
Offensive coordinator Andy LeBlanc (center), looks on as his new-look offense gears up for the first game of the season. - photo by Rio White

Dawson County Tigers Football

Next game: Season opener vs. Jackson County (home) Friday, 8/19

What to expect: Jackson County is coming off its first state playoff appearance under head coach Rich McWhorter. Both teams will have new-look offenses with plenty to prove.

All through the past week, practice has been increasingly intense for the Dawson County football team as they prepare for the season opener at home against Jackson County on Friday, Aug. 19.

As has been the case in previous seasons, head coach Sid Maxwell put together a challenging non-region schedule to get his team playing at its best. 

By facing teams from higher classifications, the 3A Tigers will seek to get the most of a roster that has had major changes in the past year.

The Tigers are looking to be ready for the 6A Panthers by learning from a scrimmage defeat to fellow 6A team North Forsyth.

During the most recent practices, each area of the team focused on areas of needed improvement with a heightened sense of urgency.

A relatively young offense had quarterbacks Davis Glass and Walker Massey take plenty of reps with a variety of alignments, giving them as many perspectives as possible.

With a new set of running backs on the team and the receivers needing to adjust to a new quarterback, offensive coordinator Andy LeBlanc had his eye on every facet of the process to ensure the team’s execution was at the standard needed for the regular season.

The offensive and defensive focused on footwork and explosion off the line — two areas that will be especially important in the non-region schedule. Those linemen had both one-on-one battles as well as full sides facing one another.

The many other assistant coaches had their own small groups of players focusing on specialty drills that are meant to maximize skill level. 

In addition to the drills becoming more intense, there was also an increased emphasis on vocal leadership between players. 

All of those elements shown in recent practices are set to be utilized against a Jackson team on the rise.

The Panthers are coached by four-time state champion Rich McWhorter, who once led Charlton County to three straight state titles.

McWhorter arrived at Jackson in 2019, inheriting a 3-7 team that needed a turnaround. His teams have improved each year of his tenure, culminating in a state playoff appearance last season.

Much like Dawson is reshaping their offense after the graduation of school record-holding quarterback Zach Holtzclaw, Jackson is doing the same for running back Trey Ransom.

Both of their main quarterbacks from last season also graduated, meaning that there will be an element of unpredictability from both teams. 

The Panthers have not faced a team in Dawson’s region since 2019, when they defeated Lumpkin County. But in the past two seasons, Jackson has gone up against Stephens County, who the Tigers will face later this season.

On both occasions, the Panthers lost to the Region 8-3A Indians.

The Tigers will have one more week of practices before they square off against the Panthers.