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Friday, January 19, 2018

DCHS football should rebound in Livingston

By Anthony Varriano

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

The Dawson County High School football team might have dropped a winnable game to Glasgow in its home opener Friday night, but the team should rebound nicely in Livingston this Friday.

While the Park High Rangers do have enough to field a team after forfeiting their first two games, they barely have enough, said new head coach Jon Willyerd.

“Counting freshmen we’re up to 34, and when I started we had 26,” Willyerd said. “None of those eight can play yet because they don’t have their ten practices in, though.”

The team had four returning players suspended and two more injured last week, making safety a concern for players on the offensive and defensive lines.

“We had four kids get in trouble, and we did not have enough linemen to literally play the games,” Willyerd explained. “There would have been 120-pound freshmen on the lines, so it was a safety issue.”

Willyerd is the former girls’ basketball coach at Park High and returned to coach football at the request of three school board members and many others who called after coach Bruce Knerr was fired following an injury that occurred under his watch at a football leadership retreat.

“I never thought I’d be coaching football, but I guess from what my friends tell me, my heart is bigger than my head,” Willyerd joked.

Willyerd rescues a program that’s been in the dumps since DCHS head coach Ryan Buckley left, and he’s looking forward to playing the former Park High coach.

“I’m looking forward to playing those guys first. He’s one of my son’s favorite coaches he never had. They even stay in contact,” Willyerd said.

“His son Landon was a quarterback when I was there and played at Rocky,” Buckley said, calling him a good kid and a solid athlete.

Right now, Willyerd has just five seniors on the team but does return a junior at quarterback, Ridell Floyd, and another at running back in Dalton Walker. Eight of the 26 players Willyerd will field are freshmen, so expect Dawson’s sophomores to get some playing time despite having to come back and play a junior varsity game in Baker the next day. The freshmen will hang back and only play Baker.

“We’re bringing over 30, but we do have some older kids, though,” Buckley said. “I expect (Park) to come out and compete. They’re not going to lay down for us.”

The Red Devils have plenty to work on, as offensive miscues cost them in their home opener, and although they have no film on Livingston’s squad, Buckley thinks his team should rebound.

“I expect us to play well. We have some stuff we have to work on, but we’ve been getting after that in practice,” he said.

Willyerd will just be happy his kids get to play, calling the first two weeks of the season “heartbreaking” for them.

“These kids have kind of been through the grinder,” he added. “They’re learning a lot of lessons about how the actions of a few can affect everyone. If that’s what’s to learn from high school sports, they’re learning it now.”

The game kicks off at 7 p.m. in Livingston.

Reach Anthony Varriano at rrsports@rangerreview.com.

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