Dawson County rolled up another convincing win on Friday, putting up big numbers behind senior quarterback Tyler Dominy and moving to 2-0 for the first time since 2005.
But don’t let those showy stats overshadow what the defense has done: post back-to-back shutouts.
It’s the first time since 2004 the Tigers have achieved the feat, and 2004, by the way, was coach Jeff Lee’s second season on campus and the last time the Tigers made the playoffs.
Making the goose eggs all the more impressive is that they’ve come largely without the services of two key starters: linebacker Cody Smith and lineman Cale Tallant. Even without those seniors, who were injured and lost for the season in the first quarter of last week’s opener against East Hall, the Tigers have allowed a total of just 205 yards of offense through two games. In Friday’s 35-0 win over rival Lumpkin County, Dawson County yielded just 7 rushing yards on 20 carries.
The challenge could get stiffer next week as the Tigers welcome Class AAAAAA North Forsyth. Though the Raiders won just one game last year, they’re entering their second season under noted program builder Blair Armstrong and won their opener, 10-7, over Forsyth Central on Friday.
HARDEST-WORKING MAN IN HALL COUNTY: Speaking of 2-0 starts, Johnson is unbeaten through its first two games for the first time since 2007, and it’s no secret that senior running back Cedric Harris is the biggest reason why.
As the featured back in new coach Jason Roquemore’s option-based offense, Harris has already logged 66 carries through two games, and he’s making the most of them. A year after leading the Knights with more than 1,400 rushing yards, Harris is up to 435 rushing yards, unofficially, and has scored seven of Johnson’s eight touchdowns so far.
“It feels great,” Harris said after rushing 26 times for 257 yards and five touchdowns in the Knights’ 36-21 win over Oglethorpe County. “I’m exhausted.”
The Knights, who are playing a nonregion schedule this season, will try to give Roquemore a 3-0 start to his head coaching career when they travel to take on North Hall on Friday.
Johnson hasn’t been 3-0 since 2003 when they were coached by the aforementioned Armstrong.
THE NEW GUYS: Benji Harrison, the former Flowery Branch offensive coordinator now leading Jackson County, joined Roquemore among the unbeatens when the Panthers gave their new coach a win in his debut Friday night, 21-10 over Winder-Barrow.
Riverside’s Gary Downs hopes to enter the club this week when the Eagles open their season against Whitefield Academy (0-1).
After dropping their openers, West Hall’s Tony Lotti and Flowery Branch’s Chris Griffin get a chance to even their records on Friday. West Hall hosts Chestatee (0-1), while Flowery Branch will be at West Forsyth (1-0), which is fresh off a 32-30 win over Gainesville.
TOUGH WEEK AT THE TOP: Entering the season, Flowery Branch, Gainesville and Clarke Central were widely considered the favorites in Region 8-AAAAA. Nothing that happened this weekend necessarily changed that, but the trio combined to go 0-3, albeit against stiff competition.
Flowery Branch lost to Northside-Warner Robins (No. 2 in AAAAA), Clarke Central lost to Marist (No. 5 in AAAA) and Gainesville fell to West Forsyth (a quarterfinalist last season in the state’s largest classification).