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Tigers show promise
Last scrimmage ends, season starts Friday
S-DCHS V Football pic1
Dawson County wide receiver Austin Young fights for extra yards against Lumpkin County last week. - photo by Ryan Coker Dawson Community News

For the second consecutive Friday night, a strong contingent of Tiger football fans traveled to Clermont to watch their Dawson County team play against North Hall.

The stands were filled as Tiger fans yelled words of encouragement to their beloved team.

Head Coach Sid Maxwell's team didn't disappoint them.

The Tiger defense was strong, with the exception of a couple of assignment breakdowns, and the offense had a couple of big plays in Friday's 31-13 preseason loss to North Hall.

But the story of the game was special teams play by Dawson County.

The Tigers rattled off a long kickoff return, long punt return and had a field goal block in the loss to the Trojans.

"Special teams are a game changer for or against your team. It was good to see a big explosive play on punt return and kick return. We will need to play well on special teams to have a competitive season," Maxwell said.

If there was one negative to special team's play it was the inexperience of the punter and kicker, he said.

"It was the first time for our kicker and long snappers to be in live situations in front of a good crowd. We will keep working on it at practice and they are going to be OK as we gain more experience," Maxwell said.

Dawson County had two key players receive injuries during the game. Quarterback Coey Watson and teammate Nick Murphy both received injured shoulders in the first half.

Murphy did not play much of the game after the early injury and Watson was held out of the second half.

Tigers fans erupted midway through the first quarter when Murphy returned a punt 88-yards before being dragged down inside the Trojan 5-yardline. Three offensive plays netted minus 4 yards by the offense setting up a 26-yard field goal attempt by Alan Sanchez, which was blocked by North Hall at the 6:42 mark.

North Hall got on the scoreboard first after an interception by their defense that set up shop at the Tigers 36-yardline. The Dawson County defense stiffened forcing the Trojans to a 36-yard field goal attempt. Trojan kicker Chris Dennis boomed it straight through the goal posts to give North Hall a 3-0 lead with just 41 seconds left in the first quarter.

Maxwell's team mounted a drive in the second quarter that ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by Payton Myers at the 10:16 mark of the quarter.

The play was set up by a spectacular pass from quarterback Coey Watson to wide receiver Colin Glover down to the three.

The extra point by Sanchez was not good and Dawson County held a 6-3 lead.

Dawson County special teams shined again after a short North Hall drive resulted in a field goal from 47-yards out that was blocked by the Tigers with 5:30 left in the second quarter.

The Tigers' defense stalled, which gave the ball back to the Trojans.

After a timeout, on fourth down the North Hall quarterback found a receiver who had slipped through the Dawson County secondary for a 62-yard touchdown pass.

The extra point was no good and North Hall held a 9-6 advantage.

On the ensuing kickoff Tiger Logan Hurst changed direction in the open field and raced 94-yards for a touchdown.

The extra point was true by Sanchez and the Tigers went into halftime with a 13-9 lead.

With Watson not at quarterback the Tigers offense was limited.

Maxwell brought in junior Loghan Armstrong to run the offense in the third quarter.

On the team's first possession of the half the Tigers fumbled the ball and North Hall's Nathan Kinney recovered the ball at the Dawson County 36-yardline.

Four and a half minutes later the Trojans scored from 6-yards out.

The extra point was good and gave North Hall a 16-13 lead with 4:16 remaining in the third quarter.

"Our focus was to go all out for the first half and then try to play numerous players the second half to build depth in our program at specific positions. We are moving in the right direction, but each day as a team will need to keep striving for excellent execution on all phases of football," he said.

Both teams played their younger players the entire fourth quarter. North Hall would add two more touchdowns to take a 31-13 victory.

"We are learning a new system and as we are growing and learning there will be mistakes along the way. We will keep correcting and learning to repeat the same mistakes again."

The preseason scrimmages are over and Dawson County will play its first regular season game Friday night at Tigers Stadium. Up for the Tigers will be a much improved Forsyth Central team.

"Central being a five-A program with the majority of last year's team [coming back] will be a great test for us," Maxwell said. "We need to focus on us and stay the course working to execute and finish each play."

The Bulldogs are coming off a 6-4 season last season under Head Coach Shane Williamson.

Last week Central lost its scrimmage to North Forsyth, 28-14.

The Bulldogs were leading 14-7 at halftime. The younger players played the entire second half.

Last season the Bulldogs defeated Dawson County 27-7.

Fourteen seniors are gone from that Central team.

Players to watch for are running backs Sabrian Howard and Shaun Daniel. Central will be led by quarterback Jagger Hartshorn.

"They (Central) have the top two running backs in their region and their focus is on a power game running the football. They are a well-coached football team coming off its first winning season in 13 years. Coach (Shane) Williamson has done a great job turning the program around," Maxwell said.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

Maxwell advises fans to get to the stadium early as parking is limited due to construction at the school.

"I know the players are hoping to have a big crowd this week. They are looking forward to the home field advantage and especially the support from the community - one heart - one beat - one team and one community. This is what football is all about," Maxwell said.