Posted: Monday, August 13th 2012 at 9:42am
Football 2012: Senior-laden Tigers sharpening claws
By Morgan Lee Editor
DAWSONVILLE -- Dawson County football coach Jeff Lee has had the 2012 season circled for some time.
“This is my 10th year here, and we’ve had a lot of good players, guys who have gone on to play major college ball and had NFL ability, but this year’s team is the best I’ve had here,” Lee said.
The reason? Talent, depth and experience.
The Tigers will feature 19 seniors in 2012 and return 17 combined starters off a team that just missed out on the state playoffs in 2011, losing three games by six points or less.
“I feel like we’re ready to take a big step,” Lee said. “We lost a lot of close games, and these guys are determined to be better this year.”
Many of those players took their lumps as freshmen on a team that went 1-9 in 2009, improved to 3-7 in 2010 before going 5-5 last season.
Included in that group is quarterback Tyler Dominy, who leads the Tigers wing-T hybrid offense.
“He’s been a real pleasure to coach,” Lee said of the 6-foot-5 senior. “He started the last three-four games of his freshman season, when he weighed 130 pounds, and has developed into a real leader. He has arm strength; he knows the offense; he really opens up the offense.”
He will be joined in the backfield by a bruising fullback in Zach Martin (6-0, 220 pounds), who also combines speed and soft hands to great effect. Martin also showed the ability to star at linebacker last season and will see time on the other side of the ball as well this year.
Meanwhile, receiver Bruce Clark (6-5) presents a huge target for Dominy. Clark will be joined by deep threats Chris Sayler and Mitchell Putnam, as well as senior Will Anglin.
“We feel like we’ve got four good receivers,” Lee said.
In fact the biggest issue may be in how to distribute the ball effectively to all of the Tigers weapons -- a problem that Lee is relishing.
The offensive line should also be stout, featuring one senior (Harley Vaughn) and four juniors -- combined with two junior tight ends -- in the starting line-up.
Defensively, little has changed for the Tigers, save in the secondary, where Dawson Co. will mix up its coverages -- the advantage of an experienced group of players.
“We’ll have more coverages,” Lee said. “We’re going to be able to play a little faster.”
Much of that starts with Anglin, who along with playing receiver acts as the quarterback of the defense at safety. He will be joined by Jackson Putnam at strong safety.
The linebacking corps will also be strong, thanks in large part to senior Cody Smith and junior outside linebacker Keaton Toal.
Special teams, meanwhile, also features a veteran in placekicker Max Muldoon, while junior tight end Kolton Chester will handle punting duties.
Lee says that, despite their experience level, the Tigers must avoid complacency.
“We’ve got to continue to work and be fundamentally sound,” Lee said. “We can’t let up on the little things. If you don’t block and tackle it doesn’t matter how talented you are.”
Playing in what could be a very difficult Region 7-AAA -- up from Region 8-AA a year ago – Dawson Co. knows it cannot afford to take any opponent lightly.
“I like this region,” Lee said. “We’ve got one of the best teams in the state, regardless of classification, in Buford. Then you’ve got programs like North Hall that are traditionally strong. We’d like to be in that pecking order too.”
DAWSON COUNTY: NEED TO KNOW
TEAM COLORS: Maroon and Gold
CURRENT REGION: 7-AAA
HEAD COACH/RECORD AT SCHOOL: Jeff Lee, 10th season, 35-56
2011 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 5-5
KEY LOSSES: DL Lee Smith, DB Scott Parker
OFFENSIVE STYLE: Hybrid wing-T -- the Tigers base several plays out of the wing-T but run anything but a traditional style of the offense and will throw the ball as well as run with power.
KEY OFFENSIVE PLAYERS: Sr. QB Tyler Dominy (6-foot-5), Sr. FB Zach Martin (6-0, 220), Sr. OL Harley Vaughn, Sr. WR Bruce Clark (6-5), Sr. WR Mitchell Putnam, eight total starters return
DEFENSIVE STYLE: 4-4 -- Dawson will continue to focus on stopping the run, but the Tigers have also added more responsibility to an experienced and versatile secondary unit.
KEY DEFENSIVE PLAYERS: Sr. LB Cody Smith, Sr. DB Will Anglin, Jr. OLB Keaton Toal, Jr. SS Jackson Putnam, Sr. DB Chris Sayler, nine total starters return
SPECIAL TEAMS: Jr. P Kolton Chester, Jr. PK Max Muldoon -- Muldoon is a solid, veteran kicker.
STRENGTH: Experience -- The Tigers are blessed with 21 seniors and plenty of leadership. Dawson Co. hopes that this will in fact be a breakout season with what coach Lee believes is the best overall team he’s had in Dawsonville.
QUESTION: Distribution -- Dawson Co. has plenty of weapons, now the Tigers want to spread the ball around the best they can to those players.
KEY GAMES: Dawson County will host Class AAAAAA foe North Forsyth on Sept. 7 in what is sure to be a great measuring-stick game. The Tigers play three straight tough region games: home to North Hall (Sept. 28), at Banks County (Oct. 5) and at Buford (Oct. 19) -- that slate will go a long way in deciding the entire playoff picture in Region 7-AAA.
TRENDING: The Tigers went 5-5 last season, but in three of those losses Dawson let a second half lead slip. Dawson’s large senior class -- many of whom started as freshmen -- took their lumps with a 1-9 record in 2009, improved to 3-7 in 2010 and then 5-5 last season. It is a group that believes it is poised for a breakout season in 2012, despite moving up in classification into Region 7-AAA.
Aug. 24 vs. East Hall
Aug. 31 at Lumpkin County
Sept. 7 vs. North Forsyth
Sept. 14 at Forsyth Central
Sept. 28 vs. North Hall
Oct. 5 at Banks County
Oct. 19 at Buford
Oct. 26 vs. White County
Nov. 2 at Fannin County
Nov. 9 at West Hall
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