Dawson ready to defend 23-6A crown

PEARLAND DAWSON — The Dawson Eagles proved that pre-season picks don't mean much until it's time to compete on the field of competition. That's where games are won or lost.

Last season, the Eagles were picked to finish fourth in District 23-6A while still making the post-season. That was the position Dawson finished in 2018 while advancing to the playoffs. The Eagles finished 6-5 under first-year head coach Mike Allison.

A big change took place in 2019 as the Eagles adopted the FAMILY theme while Allison saw his chargers come together as one unit. The result was a District 23-6A championship and a perfect 7-0 league mark. Dawson finished the season with a sparkling 10-2 mark while advancing to the Class 6A Region III Div. I area round as two-time defending 6A Div. I state champion North Shore go a hard-fought 58-35 win.

As Dawson enters the 2020 season, there are some new faces in 23-6A with the addition of Class 5A Div. I state champion Shadow Creek and Alvin as the new teams on the block while George Ranch and Brazoswood were sent elsewhere by the UIL realignment.

The pre-season predictions as to how the teams will finish in district include Shadow Creek (16-0), Pearland (8-3), Dawson (10-2), Strake Jesuit (10-3), Alief Taylor (3-7), Alief Hastings (4-6), Alief Elsik (2-8), and Alvin (0-10).

One ideal scenario for Dawson would be that one of the Alief teams could somehow manage a fourth place finish that would send the Eagles to the 6A Region III Div. II bracket to avoid having to face the big schools in 6A Div. I.

But either way, Allison will have his players ready to compete no matter which division the team finds themselves in come playoff time.

Dawson has four offensive and seven defensive players returning as well as 18 returning lettermen.

The Eagles defensive unit will need to set the pace early until the offense can gain a little more experience.

The defense will be led by 23-6A Defensive Player of the Year DE Cameron Whitfield (6-3, 240) who is a D1 recruit. Whitfield led the Eagles with 79 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, and eight sacks. He will be joined by Vernon Smith (41 tackles, 2 INTs, and four offensive TDs). CB David Fisher will also be an impact player as he had four interceptions.

Athlete Blake Smith (5-9, 160), the 23-6A "Return Specialist of the Year" had 127 yards on 12 punt returns and 62 yards on four kickoff returns. Smith also had 66 yards rushing on 12 carries and two scores while catching seven passes for 119 yards and one TD. Smith also had two interceptions.

Other defensive players that will set the tone for the season will be LB Darien Flynn (5-11, 190, 4.6), LB Carter Ostrom, LB Jordan Stewart, DE Anthony Knox, DB Jonah Ledet, and LB Jeremy Kolakowski.

The biggest hit the Eagles took on offense was the loss to senior QB Myles Kitt-Denton who was the MVP of the 23-6A.

Kitt-Denton gave the Eagles a duel-threat weapon on offense. Kitt-Denton finished the season hitting 107-of-200 passes for 1,740 yards with 16 TDs and eight INT. He also had 871 yards rushing on 135 carries for 10 touchdowns. The talented signal-caller finished with 2,611 total yards for 26 TDs.

While Allison has the task of finding a quarterback to lead the offense, the cupboard is certainly not bare on that side of the ball starting with the return of RB Ja'Den Stewart (5-11, 190, 4.7) who led the Eagles in rushing with 195 carries for 1,155 yards, 14 TDs; 18 catches for 211 yards, one TD.

A surprise transfer came to Dawson in the form of Pearland running back Torrance Burgess (5-9, 190, 4.5) who wanted to finish his senior year at Dawson with his two brothers. Burgess led the Oilers last season with 1,018 yards rushing and 13 TDs.

That gives Allison a talented one-two punch on offense with two talented runners as both have power and speed to burn.

Other offensive players that need to step up include OL Johnny Lopez, TE Hayden Curry, and OL Garrett Slider.

Another player that will certainly give Allison an edge on offense is All-State placekicker Carter Brown (6-0, 180). Brown is only a junior and is one of the top kickers in the nation. He booted a school-recorder 49-yard field goal last season and certainly has the leg to hit from 50 plus when called upon in the game.

Brown hit 48-of-51 PATs; 15-of-16 FGs (including school-record 49-yarder) and was the team's leading scorer with 93 points.

"Carter has become a weapon for the FAMILY," Allison said. "When you are talking about offensive help, his field goal range has allowed us to keep our playbook open once we get to the 35.

"We are confident that he can make a long field goal, so we don’t have to narrow the offensive plays down to either be conservative or to take a shot."

When a high school coach has a weapon like Brown, then the coach will not hesitate to use his kicker during a game -- especially when the game is very close and a field goal could mean the difference in a win or loss.

So the Eagles will certainly be a contender to defend their district championship despite having the 5A state champion as a new member of the district. Allison will certainly remind his players that they also defeated cross-town cousin Pearland and Strake Jesuit last season because they played as a FAMILY.