By James Butler
LOCUST GROVE Ga. – Mark Myers is starting his third season as Dutchtown’s head football coach, and just like in his previous two seasons, his Bulldogs made the championship game of the Airo 7v7 Tournament at Warren Holder Park.
Dutchtown won the tournament two years ago, but after falling to Langston Hughes 26-0 on Wednesday, the Bulldogs have lost in the last two title games.
Nevertheless, Myers appreciates his team being able to play in the tournament because it means just that – they are on the field playing.
“The thing I enjoy the most about this is the competition,” Myers said. “I want our kids to go out here and compete. That’s the biggest thing. Obviously this is not real football because you [don’t] have the offensive line, defensive line, [and] 11 men, but it does help us and we need to come and do this every year – which is why we do this every year.”
Dutchtown defeated Greene County 7-0 and a young, but talented Centennial team 14-13 in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively to reach the title game. In both games, the Bulldogs made enough plays on offense and played a tough and aggressive defense, battling opposing receivers for a lot of the balls the opposition put in the air.
“Some of the players who stuck out were quarterback Nolan Gomes,” Myers said. “Defensively, Trey Dean, he played really well defensively. I think Jayshawn Polk played well. From time-to-time, all of our receivers played well. Those are some of the guys who played well.”
Polk had an interception in the end zone early in the Centennial game that proved to be key. Polk is a rising sophomore for the Bulldogs, which seems to be the rule rather than the exception in 2016 at Dutchtown. The Bulldogs, who are coming off back-to-back 5-5 seasons, are young this year, and that comes with its own set of challenges.
“We used this obviously to get better, but the main thing I want to [takeaway] from here is we got to compete, and we got to learn when we make mistakes we can’t get down on ourselves,” Myers said.
“We got to line up and play the next snap. These are some of the things I’m trying to instill in our team. We’re a pretty young team. The majority of our guys that are on the field are juniors and sophomores. We don’t have many seniors, so we’re looking for these young guys to just learn. Learn from these mistakes and hopefully get better.”
The youth showed at times over the two-day tournament, despite Dutchtown returning to the title game. The Centennial game likely may not have been as close as it was if not for Gomes being the victim of several dropped passes.
“We get got to get better offensively with catching the ball,” Myers said. “We dropped a bunch of balls [Wednesday] and [Tuesday]. Hopefully we’ll learn from these situations.”
Dutchtown competes every Tuesday in the Lovejoy passing league, but when it comes to the high profile 7-on-7 events, the Airo 7v7 is the highlight of its summer. However, that does not mean the Bulldogs are not working towards the 2016 season.
“For the rest of the summer we’ll continue to do our daily workouts and we’ll go to camp down in Spalding [County] later on this month, and pretty much finish out July the same way,” Myers said.
He is particularly excited about the trip to Spalding.
“It’s usually about 10-12 teams that are down there, so we’ll get some good competition there,” he said. “That’s always good for us because we actually get to compete against some pretty good teams.”