As the Dawson County football Tigers closed the chapter on the first full week of practice, newly installed defensive coordinator Bradley Fowler clearly recognized the challenge to rebuilding the defensive juggernaut the team fielded last season.
The defensive team lost 14 seniors to graduation, including every starting member of a defensive line that briefly ranked in the top five nationally against the rush and held opponents to an average of 13 points per game while posting two shutouts in 2018.
“We lost a lot of talent to graduation on the defensive side of the ball,” Fowler said. “Heck, we lost a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. It’s going to be hard to build it back up but that’s the beauty of this system, it keeps young talent coming through.”
The system he referred to is the basis for the “One Dawson” system installed four-years ago by Head Coach Sid Maxwell when he took over the Tigers in 2015. Maxwell’s concept extended the play book and formation schemes to all levels of Dawson County football.
A Tiger in the seventh grade is running the same plays as a Tiger on the varsity field with the goal of instilling the fundamentals of football, specifically Dawson County football, into an athlete from the beginning, and the upcoming season will be the first time the program has had the opportunity to generate an entirely new class.
“We teach the system so that each time we execute we can get better,” Maxwell said. “Don’t do it until you get it right, do it until you can’t get it wrong.”
With less than a week until the annual Spring Game, and then a long summer of weight training and mini camps before the beginning of fall, Maxwell emphasized the need to make the best use of the short window of training time.
“Due to their youth and newness to this level, it gives us a chance to teach them how to play as a team,” Maxwell said. “When we put them in a real evaluation period, under duress, it may be different.”
The Dawson County Tigers will put all levels of the system into action for the first time in 2019 at the end of the week as the program hosts the Pickens County Dragons for the annual Spring Game. The seventh-grade team will kick off the action at 4:30 p.m. on May 16, followed immediately by the eighth and ninth-grade team games, and the first glimpse of the 2019 varsity team will come under the lights on May 17 with kick-off scheduled for 7:30 p.m.