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Dillon High School

Hayes Begins 28th Season In Dillon With Home Game Against Havelock, NC To State Season

By Billy G. Baker

Publisher

Dillon—As Hall of Fame football coach Jackie Hayes prepares to host tradition rich Havelock, N.C. to start the 2019 season on August 23rd he is stressing the need for more senior leadership with the Wildcats young team this season.

After 27 seasons, including 7 state titles and a career record of 318-53, is the head ball coach still having fun? “I am still having fun coaching but the kids are little different these days,” said Coach Hayes. “When it is not fun anymore, I will quit and do something else. I enjoy working with our student athletes and every season presents new challenges for sure.

“We are still looking for senior leadership and the season is starting and leadership from your veteran players is very important,” said Coach Hayes. “Everyone has been working hard this summer to get better but the lack of senior leadership has been an issue we are dealing with coming into the season.”

Coach Hayes said the intense heat over the summer has also been a negative factor. “The hot weather has had an effect on our preparation for the season,” he said. “It has been unusually hot and humid this summer and hopefully it will cool off pretty soon. It has definitely been a factor in our practice schedule.”

In their two jamborees Dillon managed a 17-14 two quarter win over Scotland County, N.C. (a highly respected team in the Tar Heel state) as Malachi Bember hit a 20-yard field goal to seal the win. Then at the recent Marlboro County Jamboree Dillon defeated Darlington 21-0 in a two- quarter complete team effort on both sides of the football.

The Nasty Cats of defense kept Darlington out of the end zone on three plays from the three- yard line as senior linebacker Tyquan King (6-2, 212) made several nice tackles. Quarterback Ja’teil Lester made several nice passes, completing a touchdown pass to Zammer Bethea. Sophomore running back Nemo Squire had several nice runs along with speedy sophomore Nigel George.

Dillon had 22 seniors listed on their championship roster in the AAA state finals last year at Williams-Brice Stadium at USC. No doubt finding a replacement for defensive end/outside linebacker Shamar McCollum, now on scholarship at Wake Forest, will be a challenge for the coaching staff. McCollum could come off the edge and put pressure on opposing quarterbacks with the best of them.

“We hear McCollum might be starting as a true freshman at Wake Forest in a week or two so that tells you how valuable he was to our team,” said Coach Hayes. “We are looking for several players to step up in his place this season.”

One adjustment might just be with senior Tyquan King (6-2, 212) playing most of his time at middle linebacker after gaining around 650 yards rushing last year as a power back. “King’s going to be a college linebacker at the next level, and we need him to focus more on that position with our graduation losses,” said Coach Hayes. “He is a very talented player and he is going to make some college a good linebacker.”

Perhaps the main reason Dillon got a lot of visits from major colleges during the May evaluation from schools like Clemson, South Carolina, East Carolina, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Florida, Syracuse, Georgia State, Coastal Carolina, N. C. State, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern was for highly rated junior receiver Ahmari Huggins-Bruce (6-1, 170). Huggins-Bruce is a nationally rated prospect and last year he caught around 60 passes for nearly 900 yards and 10 touchdowns. As a freshman in the state championship game he had three touchdown catches and over 150 yards in receptions.

The Wildcats will use junior Bo Bo McKinnon (6-1, 160) as a wide receiver and as a defensive back a lot this season. The starting tight end is projected to be Chris McCollum. The offensive line for Dillon returns three starters led by highly regarded junior tackle James Avery Hewitt (6-3 -300) who impressed USC coaches at camp this summer. Hewitt is claiming Valedictorian status coming into his junior year and he can bench press 300 pounds and runs close to a 5-0 forty. Some observers prefer to him as the total package when factoring athletics and academics together.

Junior Knox Jackson returns at center along with senior guard/tackle Tony Coleman (6-0, 265) starting for his third season. Senior Dawson Perritte will be at left guard and Saquan Mclellan (5-11, 240) will step up to play right guard.

On defense the trench people are led by senior tackle Roy Covington (5-11, 210), senior tackle Keshawn Greer (6-4, 240), sophomore Tyler Pinkney (6-2, 200) is at one end with Quincey McCollum is at the other. Cleaning up behind them at the linebacking slots in addition to King are Travion Johnson and JQ Cabbagestalk.

The secondary is patrolled by Tyree Porter, Dez Gooden, veteran senior leader Daizon Alford (5-11, 180) and McKinnon. McKinnon will also handle punting duties for the Wildcats.

Dillon comes into the season with five starters back on offense and three on defense but despite heavy graduation losses the goals of competing for state championships remains at the very type of their goal chart. “We work hard to compete for championships at Dillon,” said Coach Hayes. “We are trying to get back to Williams-Brice, but this is a real young and immature team right now and we need to get grow up really quick. We will soon be playing one of the top teams in North Carolina and we need to get ready for that challenge.

“One thing we have to understand is that while we are fortunate to have play makers like Lester and Bruce- Huggins on the field, and they can make a big play at any time, we need to also understand the importance of sustaining long drives and keeping the ball out of the hands of our opponents,” said Coach Hayes. “We are also glad to have Jackson, Hewitt and Coleman all back in the offensive line and it will take all five of our linemen playing together to make things work. We will average 265 to 270 across the front.”

 

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