The sight of tackling dummies and blocking sleds being moved onto the field at Dawson County High School’s Tiger Stadium was a welcome sight for Linebacker Coach Gregory Baloga as fall sports season officially began on May 6.
“It was nice to see all the equipment back out on the field,” Baloga said. “It will be good to be back out on the field again.”
Despite that joyful feeling, Coach Baloga went on to acknowledge the challenges facing this year’s version of the Tigers as the team rebuilds from the loss of 28 seniors to graduation.
“This is the time we get to take a look at new players and new talent, as well as a look at our returning guys,” Baloga said. “We finally get the chance to see if a kid that is good in the weight room can transition those skills to the field, and we get to see what we have to work with, who we need to develop.”
Development of the players and the program has always been the key under Head Coach Sid Maxwell as he enters his fifth year with the Tigers, and he has taken into consideration the youth and lack of experience in this year’s team in forming his plan for the upcoming season.
“Youth itself is a factor, from strength development, to educational development, to maturity,” Maxwell said. “We have to make sure they finish their journey.”
As part of the journey, the team has scheduled three full-pad camps over the summer (as compared to last year’s one) in addition to the traditional spring game that is set to take place against Pickens County on May 17.
The additional time in pads, and playing the game with contact and speed, will provide an extra measure of growth for a critical position that, as of yet, remained unfilled—quarterback. Last year’s dual threat back, SeVaughn Clark, has moved onto the backfield of UGA, and finding a replacement is foremost in Maxwell’s mind.
“I don’t want him locked in the pocket with nobody rushing him, like in 7-on-7 ball,” Maxwell said. “I need to see what he can do under duress, when he has to slide out of the pocket, and then throw the ball.”
When pressed on who will take the field under center, Maxwell insisted that it was too early to make that decision for any position, much less quarterback, and that the player competitions were wide open as the team begins practice.
“A lot of people will have opportunities,” Maxwell said. “One week may not be like the next.”
After two weeks of practice, Dawson County will get the first glimpse of the 2019 version of the Tigers as they host the Pickens County Dragons for the spring game on May 17.