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Tigers refocus for Hart County
Dawson County once again Region 7-AAA runner-up
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Vaughn Clark carries for the Tigers during the Nov. 3 region championship game. - photo by Kolton Brumbelow for the DCN

For three years in a row the Dawson County Tigers have played for a Region 7-AAA championship in football and though this year the team became runners-up after a loss on the road to Greater Atlanta Christian, they will once again host a state playoff game.

The Tigers lost to the Spartans 49-10 on Nov. 3.

Despite the loss, it’s time to refocus according to Head Coach Sid Maxwell.

“I think it’s always good, to be able to be here three years and have home games, that’s a first,” said Maxwell. “You can build on that…now the big step is, can we go beyond where we were last year?”

“Excited to continue hosting the first round of the playoffs at Tiger Stadium – gives the rest of the state an opportunity to see Dawson County,” said Defensive Coordinator Brent Cox. “Also, great having our local community behind us – should be an exciting night.”

Last year’s Tigers were also region runners-up after heading into the championship game against GAC when both teams were undefeated in region play. The 2016 team lost in the first round of playoffs to a talented Lovett program.

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Punter Caleb Bell boots one away for the Tigers on Nov. 3. - photo by Kolton Brumbelow
On Friday, the Spartans dominated on both sides of the ball and Clemson commit Kyler McMichael had 139 yards rushing with two touchdowns on just five carries. 

The GAC offense would score on four of their first five possessions and score again on the defensive side of the ball with a blocked punt in the end zone. 

With 5:09 until the half it was 35-0.

A tipped ball would result in a pick six for the Spartans on the next Dawson possession making it 42-0.

With under three minutes until the break, Dawson County was able to sustain a drive beginning at their own 20. Vaughn Clark and Ethan Cameron carried the ball and Watson found Shawn Thomas through the air.

Watson would go 7-for-10 for 54 yards passing and 49 yards rushing. 

Clark would finish off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run to finally get the Tigers on the board and make it 42-7. 

Clark ended the evening with 19 carries and 103 yards.

With less than 30 seconds until half, the Spartans’ McMichael ran 70 yards for another GAC score and GAC went to half with a 49-7 lead.

In the second half, the Tigers would score on a Peyton Allen field goal and Brody Howell would get an interception on Josh Rose but the score would be final at 49-10.

“It will be a challenge, coming off of GAC,” Maxwell said about getting prepared for state. “It will be a challenge to get our kids back on track. 

“We have also got a few injuries. It’s football. You have to bounce back. The demeanor of our young men, I like who they are. Today will be a day that they lick their wounds and then hopefully get back on track and turn the page and move forward.”

“This week we will focus on fine tuning our offense. We need to play with a better focus and stop hurting ourselves. We will need to take care of the football and get positive yards each play,” said Offensive Coordinator Andy LeBlanc. “It’s a new season and everyone has the same record now. We have to prove ourselves and continue to develop as an offense.”

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The Dawson County Tigers take the field in the region championship game at Greater Atlanta Christian. - photo by Kolton Brumbelow
The Tigers are hosting Hart County who comes in with a somewhat deceptive overall record of 3-8.

“Hart County has an excellent coach in Rance Gillespie – the teams that Hart County has lost to are excellent opponents and Hart County’s record is not reflective of their team,” said Cox. “Each week they continue to get better and play sound – a direct reflection of Coach Gillespie’s program. The QB is a play maker – good at running, scrambling and throwing the ball.”

“Hart County is a very good team. They are very athletic and aggressive. It will be a challenge for us and should be a fun game,” LeBlanc siad.

“This is what you play for, it’s a new season,” said Maxwell. “You start all over again.”

Dawson County will host the Hart County Bulldogs at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 10 at Tiger Stadium.