Coey Watson learned how to count by following football scores.
“Everything, a lot of things in my life, back up to football,” the Dawson County High School senior said. “I’ve always known the game really well and been able to tell others what to do. My mom always told me I was a born leader.”
Last week the lifelong Dawsonville quarterback was named the Region 7-AAA most valuable player on offense and it is just one more in a significant list of accomplishments and awards for the passionate competitor who has led the Tiger football program for the last four years.
“Coey has had more impact on a program than I have ever been around in my 16 years coaching,” said Offensive Coordinator Andy LeBlanc. “The quarterback position is one of, if not the most known, position in all of sports. Everyone knows who the quarterback of their team is even if they don’t know anything about football.
“To have someone like Coey leading the team on the field and being watched by even little kids that go to the games is important to not only this year’s team but for the teams over the next several years.”
Watson finished out his time at DCHS with numbers that are astounding.
His career passing yards totaled 7,012. Add to that his 2,076 rushing yards and he has accounted for 9,088 yards behind center. He also surpassed the 100 yard touchdown mark this season, finishing with 106.
As a senior he passed for 1,815 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also had 14 rushing touchdowns and 779 yards on the ground.
“I have been coaching a long time,” said Head Coach Sid Maxwell. “Players like Coey rarely come through your program and you are blessed when they do. He brings more than just being a good football player. He makes others around him better, and that’s an art in itself. He’s a very unselfish football player with a dying desire to compete and win.”
That unselfish play along with the passion to make others successful has earned him a stack of awards in his four years.
As a freshman, he was named to the second team all-region as a quarterback.
During his sophomore year, the Tigers became region champions and advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the playoffs with Watson at the helm. He was named Region 7-AAA player of the year and received an all-state honorable mention.
Last season he was first team all-region as quarterback.
He also received an award given by high school officials called the Heart of Friday Nights Award.
Anyone who has watched Watson play certainly understands why he would earn such recognition as his passion on the field is undeniable.
“Coey’s passion gave energy to our team each and every game,” LeBlanc said. “Coey’s passion has inspired me to work harder and be a better coach many times since I have been here. Who doesn’t want to work their tail off for someone like Coey? That’s what his passion does, makes everyone around him better, including the coaching staff.”
Watson, who began playing football with Dawson County Park and Rec when he was just 5-years-old, has always been a leader and does not take lightly the role of being an example to the kids that are coming up behind him.
“I have been in all their same shoes,” Watson said. “I was Dawson County born and raised, I know exactly what they are going through. I have been in the same places they have. I love them because I remember myself coming to all the high school games and I remember myself playing in Saturday games with the Tiger on my helmet. I love it. I see myself in them.”
From the beginning, Watson’s dad, Josh Watson, has been his role model, coach and biggest supporter. He is on staff with DCHS, coaching linebackers.
“He means the world to me,” Watson said. “He believes in me more than anybody does. He is hard on me. He knows I can do better. If I am not doing good, he knows I can do better. He raised me to be tough.
“He instilled being tough and having pride in your game—he instilled that in me. I feel like, when I was younger, that he could do anything. He was my superman.”
When Watson talks about his commitment to the game and the moment he realized this was his passion, it is also a moment with his dad that he cites.
“After we won that last game of my freshman year, Dad looked at me...He told me, you are going to be special here and that’s when I was like football is going to be my thing. When sophomore year started, we started winning and it really clicked in the last game here at home,” Watson said.
That sophomore year is when Maxwell took over the program and it marked the team’s first ever region championship and winning in the Sweet 16 round of the state playoffs—a moment Watson said is his most memorable at DCHS.
“I had goals to go farther than Dawson County has ever been and we did that. I wanted to win a region championship and we did that. I wanted to have a winning record when I left here and we did that. We accomplished a lot of things,” Watson said.
The only goal not ticked off the list was that of a state championship, but Watson has still left a legacy of his own.
“A lot of people didn’t think we could go and win state games and win region,” he said. “I want Dawson County to be on the map. I want to leave success and being on the map, and people knowing who Dawson County is and it's a winning tradition, not people’s homecoming. I want to leave that,when you come here you know you are going to win. I want to leave a winning tradition.”
There was some question as to how this year’s team would fare after graduating 34 seniors last season, including most of the players Watson grew up playing with.
“I was always playing up. My team that I originally had from park and rec they were a year or two older than me,” Watson said. “When we started this year, I was nervous. I didn’t know if these guys could do it and they proved it to me every week.
“They didn’t care that they didn’t have experience. They wanted to play and they wanted to win.”
This year’s team finished 8-4 overall and 5-1 in region play. The single loss in region was the championship game against Greater Atlanta Christian.
The Tigers soundly defeated Hart County in the first round of state playoffs before being eliminated by Cedar Grove.
Watson plans to keep going, however.
“He’s a very unselfish football player with a dying desire to compete and win,” Maxwell said. “Whatever he needs to do to make that happen, within the rules, he is all for.
“He doesn’t have to be the center stage. That is probably the biggest thing nowadays, in the year 2017, where the me-ism is probably the main focus, what is in it for me? His job was one for all and all for one.”
Maxwell and others point to that quality for success at the next level for Watson.
“Wherever he gets an opportunity to go, he will be a winner,” Maxwell said. “Whoever is fortunate enough to get him. Sometimes you have to be able to look beyond the ‘if he was three or four inches taller he would go where he wants to go.’ With that being said, you make the most of what God has given you and go out and show the world who you are.”
Watson, who is 5’ 9”,plans to attend a four-year college and get a business degree while playing football.
“My biggest thing was when I got here, I want them to look at me and realize you don’t have to be big to play football. You can be any size as long as you have passion and heart and when you have God on your side and when you have a few people believing in you, it doesn’t matter how big you are,” he said.