After three games on the road the Dawson County Tigers returned to Tiger Stadium to face the Cherokee Bluff Bears in the 2018 homecoming game on Oct. 26.
Fielding the up-tempo offense that was debuted last week the Tigers amassed 41 points in the first half to easily defeat the Bears by a final score of 41–7.
Cherokee Bluff, playing in their inaugural season, came into Friday night’s game at 0–9 knowing this was their last chance to record a win for the year. The team showed determination on the opening drive as they quickly mounted a threatening drive into Tigers territory using a fast-paced combination of wide receiver screens and medium pass plays.
Initially, the Tiger defense appeared flat-footed and off-guard, but on back-to-back plays, defensive end Zac Baloga, senior, penetrated deep into the backfield to disrupt the rhythm of Bear’s quarterback Connor Boyd and the defense was able to force the Bears into a punting situation to end the drive.
After their hesitation on the opening drive, the Tiger defense returned to form to completely shut-down the Bears over the remainder of the game. Senior Noah Brock and junior Riley Herndon each recorded an interception to end promising drives from Cherokee Bluff, and the front four of Dawson County applied relentless pressure on the Bears’ backfield.
“They are a first-year school with mostly freshmen and sophomores on the roster,” said Tight End Coach Tony Kijanko. “Those kids have gotten a lot of experience and are looking for their first win. We are taking them very seriously.”
Wasting no time in establishing both the tempo of the game and their running game, the Tigers opened the night with an outside pitch to sophomore Dakohta Sonnichsen, who weaved his way through 69 yards of Bears to score the first touchdown of the night.
Watson’s jersey retired during halftime ceremony
Former Dawson County High School quarterback Coey Watson returned to Tiger Stadium on Friday, Oct. 26 to see his jersey retired in a halftime ceremony. Watson holds the school record for career starts (44) and total touchdowns (106) and led the Tigers to the regional finals in three consecutive seasons. Watson currently plays for the Shorter University Hawks.
Subsequent drives repeated the same pattern as senior quarterback Vaughn Clark and running backs Ahmad Kamara and Shawn Thomas all scored on touchdown runs of 50 yards or longer. Kamara and Thomas both scored twice as the Tigers amassed over 300 yards rushing before the end of the second quarter.
Sophomore quarterback Maximos Moon took control of the offense in the second half as multiple Tigers took the field for their first varsity level playing time this season, among them junior Kobe Rea who immediately made his presence know on the field by penetrating into the Bears backfield to record a tackle for loss on his first play.
“You can feel the difference in play and intensity at the varsity level,” said Rea about being on the field. “It was an awesome feeling being out there with my team.”
The second half of the game took place under a continuous clock, stopped only in the event of an injury on the field, and resulted in neither team being able to mount an effective drive. The Bears managed to avoid the shutout when they recovered a Tiger’s fumble in the end zone with just over six minutes remaining in the game to bring the final score to 41–7 in favor of Dawson County.
With the victory the Tigers moved to an overall record of 8–1 and 4–1 in the region as they prepare to host the North Hall Trojans in the final game of the 2018 regular season on Nov. 2.