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Tigers outlast Johnson to end regular season with win
Varsity Football pic1
Jeremy Whalen lays a hard tackle on a Johnson running back. Teammates Taylor Swofford and Dylan Nix close in to give help on the tackle. - photo by Ryan Coker Dawson County News

Dawson County tuned up for this week's playoff game with a 17-14 victory at Johnson High School Oct. 6 in what was a non-region game.

Coach Sid Maxwell's Tigers jumped out to a 17-0 lead before fending off the Knights in the fourth quarter.

"We used the game to evaluate our younger men and to build depth for our future," Maxwell said. "Our coaches got a chance to look at these players under game conditions. It also gave us a chance to rest some of our regulars to make sure they are healthy for this week."

Several milestones were achieved by Dawson County in the game.

Sophomore quarterback Coey Watson finished the regular season with 2,009 total yards.

Watson rushed 116 times this season for 343 yards and eight touchdowns. He also completed 119 of 213 passes for 1,666 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Converted defensive player Hunter Mitchell surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark.

Mitchell, a former cornerback, finished the Johnson game with 16 rushes for 125 yards.

Following the effort, Mitchell completed the regular season with 139 carries for 1,045 yards, which is 7.5 yards per carry. Mitchell has also scored 11 rushing touchdowns.

"Hunter has been outstanding for our offense. He runs with such aggression and determination, our entire team feeds off his effort and effort. He is someone we can count on in critical situations and someone that can carry the entire offense if needed," said Offensive Coordinator Andrew LeBlanc. "I believe we have three very capable tailbacks with Hunter, Logan Hurst and Payton Myers. Logan and Payton have done a tremendous job for us all season long filling in for Hunter when he needs a blow or went over to play some defense."

Senior standout receiver Tucker Maxwell was held out of Friday's game in preparation for the state playoffs.

Maxwell finished the regular season with 28 catches for 613 yards and 11 touchdowns.

"I thought we came out without as much emotion and focus as we would like. We knew that Johnson had one of the better defenses we had faced in several weeks though. Our offensive output wasn't what we would like, but much of the credit goes to Johnson's defense, they played very hard and gave us problems up front all night long."

Mitchell scored early in the first half from 39-yards out to give the Tigers a 7-0 advantage after Alan Sanchez added the extra point.

Dawson County extended the lead to 10-0 on a play you don't see very much in football. The Tigers converted on a 42-yard free kick off the foot of Sanchez with just 31 seconds left before half.

The Tigers added another score late in the third quarter on a 23-yard score by Mitchell. Sanchez added the extra point to make the score 17-0.

Johnson didn't go away easily.

In the fourth quarter, the Knights got on the scoreboard on Vince Pittman's one-yard scoring plunge early in the fourth quarter. Dawson County held a 17-7 advantage.

With 1:32 left in the game Pittman hauled in a 20-yard pass from freshman quarterback Sam Corbett to make the score 17-14.

The Knights had one more offensive possession with 18 seconds left, but Tiger Jeremy Whalen picked off a Corbett pass to end the game.

Watson finished the game going 9 for 18 with 104 yards.

Tiger receiver Austin Young caught 5 passes for 84 yards. Young completed the regular season with 44 catches and 625 yards and a score.

Dawson County will host the first ever state playoff game Friday night.

The Tigers opponent will be Ringgold High School from Region 6-AAA.

Ringgold is the No. 4 seeded team from that region.

The team is coached by Robert Akins. Ringgold has an overall record of 6-4 and a region record of 5-3.

The team had to defeat North Murray, 28-6, to secure the number four spot and a state playoff berth.

Dawson County must be aware of a couple threats from Ringgold. Quarterback Devin Lancaster threw for 183 yards and two touchdowns against North Murray last Friday night.

Lancaster's favorite targets are receivers Dalton Green and Chase Shelby.

Running back Dee King also has big played capability. King rushed for 168 yards and 2 scores last Friday week.

Defensively, Ringgold runs a multiple front depending on the personnel and formation the offense is in.

"It is our philosophy on offense that we don't change for the defense we are playing. We believe we have answers for anything that the defense may throw at us. The offense fires on all cylinders when we are attacking and distributing the ball everywhere on the field," LeBlanc said.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

The Tigers ended the regular season with a 7-3 record.