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Posted: Wednesday, August 22nd 2012 at 2:47pm

Vikings, Tigers open season with something to prove

By Jeff Hart Staff
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East Hall will travel to face Dawson County on Friday in Dawsonville in the two teams' season opener.
DAWSONVILLE – Be careful what you wish for.

Both East Hall coach Bryan Gray and Dawson County coach Jeff Lee, wanting to have an open week mid-season, decided to switch their pivotal Region 7-AAA game on October 12 to August 24 to open the season. On Friday night, both will find out if putting one of the higher profile games of the Region 7-AAA schedule front-and-center on opening night will pay off.

Both teams came into this year looking to continue upward trends in wins and challenge for a playoff spot for the first time in several years. The winner will have the early lead in the region. The loser, well…..

“There’s definitely a risk with that,” Gray said. “There are definite playoff implications in this game. I think both teams are expecting to be in the playoff race and a loss could be hard to overcome, not to mention the tiebreaker stuff. But, having that open week in the middle of a tough schedule could make the difference in two or three games. We’ll see how it plays out at the end (of the season).”

Lee, whose team is being touted as a serious contender for one of the top two spots, if not a region title, agreed it was a risky move.

“A lot of risks with a game this big so early, but a win would be even more rewarding because it will give that team a lot of confidence and an upper-hand in the standings,” Lee said. “We’re excited about playing this game right now. I think both teams have a chance to show the rest of the region that we’ll be competitive.”

What fans should expect to see are two teams with a lot of firepower on offense. East Hall averaged more than 21 points a game last year and scored 33 or more points five times. Dawson County averaged more than 28 points a game and scored 35 or more four times in 2011.

The Tigers will be led by 6-foot, 5-inch senior quarterback Tyler Dominy, who leads the Tigers wing-T hybrid offense. Fullback Zach Martin gives them a bruising ground attack and Dominy will have four solid receivers to throw to in Bruce Clark, Chris Sayler, Mitchell Putnam, and Will Anglin.

The Vikings will have two solid options under center with senior Zach Groover, who missed all of 2011 with an injury, and sophomore Devin Watson, who ran the offense in Groover’s absence last season. Junior fullback Edward Vergara leads the ground attack and the receiving corps will be led by junior Isaac Mize and Milton Welchel.

“I think our offense will cause problems for a lot of teams and they have an offense that will be tough to stop,” Lee said. “What we’re hoping is that our defense is better this year and it won’t come down to the final play.”

Dawson County got the better of the Vikings in 2011 with a 49-7 thumping in Dawsonville. But neither Lee nor Gray think it will be a lopsided affair on Friday. The Tigers lead the all-time series 5-1, with all six games coming since 2000.

“Personally, I think Dawson may have the second-best team in the region behind Buford,” Gray said. “I feel like it will be a much closer game this year. Our goal is to push the game to the fourth quarter and then give our offense a chance to win it. The key for us will be both lines. If they have solid games, I like our chances.”

While both teams definitely have something to prove to the region and themselves, the Tigers could be poised for one of those magical years. Nineteen seniors and 17 starters from last year return and Lee said how they respond in the opener could set the tone.

“Without a doubt this is the best team I’ve had in my 10 years here,” Lee said. “We’ve got depth, a good offense, a good kicking game, and hopefully an improved defense. We’re just ready to get things going. Our goal is to win the region and we can’t do that if we lose Friday. I think the kids are ready to show what they can do.”

Gray said a win for his still building program would be just the push they need.

“A win would be a huge positive to start the season but may not mean much down the road if we don’t back it up,” Gray said. “But, for the program a win would mean a whole lot to show that we are ready to take the next step. We’re excited about the opportunity.”
Associated Categories: Sports News, High School Sports

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