Dresden’s master plan: reload, not rebuild
Posted: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 12:02 pm
The loss of 10 high-quality seniors to graduation will leave a huge hole in the Dresden roster, though there is some promise among the underclassmen.
Those returnees, along with incoming freshmen, will face a formidable schedule in 2012 with a slate that includes eight teams that made the playoffs this season.
Huntingdon, Westview, Union City, West Carroll, Riverside, Gleason all advanced at least two rounds into the playoffs this year with the majority of those clubs expected to be at least as good if not better next fall.
Only Stewart County (4-6) and Gibson County (0-10) of the Lions’ opponents this season did not qualify for the postseason.
“We’ve got some good kids coming,” outgoing DHS skipper Scott Hewett said. “We lose some good ones, but we’ve had some get some playing time this year who have a chance to be really good players down the road.”
Dresden will certainly graduate some big numbers, none bigger than those put up by quarterback Gatlin Hatchel.
The team’s top rusher and passer, he had 1,402 yards and 19 TDs on the ground and 1,693 yards and 17 touchdowns through the air.
Top two receivers Colin Kanehl and Tyler McPeak also graduate. Kanehl was also the No. 3 rusher, while McPeak was second in tackles behind fellow senior Eric VanDyke.
The cupboard is far from bare with six defensive starters and five on offense from the title game lineup returning next season.
In addition, the two-deep chart had seven underclassmen on offense and five on defense.
That group includes receivers Colter Swafford and Devan Raymer, also the team’s second-leading rusher, and the top four tacklers (after VanDyke, McPeak and D.J. Ellis) in Swafford, Ray-mer, Logan Thomas and Joey Caldwell.
Dresden’s organized offseason workouts will not begin until January as a state-mandated three-week dead period follows the end of each team’s season.
• EARLY ARRIVAL — Amid all the hoopla of last week, DHS principal Chuck West and his wife, Katrina, became grandparents again — albeit earlier than expected.
The West family’s youngest son, Justin, and his wife, Katie, welcomed twin boys, Case and Cannon, to the world on Thursday morning.
The twins were born 12 weeks early and will remain in a neonatal unit in Memphis for possibly three months, though all are well, according to proud grandpa Chuck.
Katie’s parents are Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Kelley, the assistant superintendent of Weakley County Schools and a former head Dresden baseball coach.
• PROUD STRIPES — Weakley County resident and veteran official Ricky Witherspoon was the head referee in Friday afternoon’s Class 3A state championship game pitting Milan against CAK.
Witherspoon, a 1980 South Fulton High School graduate, headed a crew from the Northwest Tennessee Association that included Jason Morgan, George Hazelwood, Thomas Sherron, Ricky Wade and electric clock operator Mike Blackwood.
The crew whistled a combined 15 penalties on the two clubs.
• EXTRA POINTS — Tyler McPeak has been playing in pain for much of the season, having suffered broken bones and strained ligaments in both heels. He does, however, expect to play basketball this season. … At least one Dresden parent had reason to believe a Lion win was destined. While eating at an area Chinese restuarant, the mother of a Lion senior opened her fortune cookie to this: “This coming Saturday will be a very exciting time for you.” … While most chants by fans can be easily understood, the team’s nickname, mascot or initials usually key to the cheer, Dresden had one that took a little time to figure out. The chant “DLU” was a plea to the team to “Don’t Let Up.” … FCS is off to a great start to the athletic calendar. The Commanders have now won the state volleyball and football championships. Don’t be surprised to see the baseball team compete for a state title next spring. The team finished state runner-up last season, and many of the members of the football team play baseball as well. In addition, football head coach John McNeal skippers the baseball team. … Saturday’s 2A title game was truly a road game for Dresden but merely a short drive for FCS. While Dresden had a walk-through practice on Friday, traveled to Cookeville and spent the night in a hotel Friday night following a 250-mile trip, Friendship players slept in their own beds Friday night and then loaded up the buses Saturday morning for the 50-mile drive due east down I-40. … FCS is now 21-19 in 20 playoff trips all-time, while Dresden is 9-15 in 15 trips. Published in The WCP 12.6.11