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Comets focused on the big picture entering 2020 campaign

Beau Bearden
bbearden@gannett.com

It’s no secret that the Dickson High School football team has experienced its fair share of ups and downs during the past few seasons, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been improvement. 

Steve Day is entering his fifth year at the helm and has watched the Comets make strides to soar higher as a program. 

“Obviously we’d like to be a little bit better than what we’ve been in the years past, but I feel like we’re progressing with the little stuff that I’ve seen with the football program come along,” Day said. “It’s way above where it was five years ago to where we are now. So I’m proud of the progress.  

“It’s not all about wins and losses, but you’d like to win a little bit more than you lose,” the coach continued. “Everybody would, but I feel like our program as a whole is (made up of) high-character kids who play with great effort and great attitudes. And the relationships you build with these guys are special, too.” 

That fact is evident by looking at just one Dickson athlete who made his presence known a season ago during his senior campaign. He not only excelled as the starting quarterback with more than 1,000 yards of total offense, but he also finished  with 130 total tackles on the defensive side of the ball.  

“There’s no replacing Rusty Beard,” Day said. “His leadership, his character, his attitude, his effort, his on-field play and all of that stuff — you can’t replace that. But we do have some guys that are going to step in, that hopefully we can account for that.” 

It won’t be as tough as it was a year ago when the Comets lost 16 athletes. Dickson only has to replace six this season, but it’ll still be difficult because one is Beard and others were key contributors on the line. 

“We played a bunch of freshmen and sophomores last year and whether they were ready or not, they had to play, and they played better as the year progressed,” Day said. “They’ll continue to get better, too. Last year it might have been a bad thing, (but) this year it’s probably a good thing. We have more players with more experience this year.”

One Comet already proved that the playing time helped him as he set a new school record as a freshman receiver. 

“Jzavionn Bennett had the most receptions in school history in a season,” Day said. “He caught 36 balls last year, so he’s a guy we got to have contribute on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball.” 

Bennett won’t be the only one Dickson depends on, as eight other wideouts return for the 2020 season. The running game isn’t as solidified as Day expects to enter the season using a committee. 

Switching gears to the other side of the ball has the Comets in pretty good shape with a solid group that can stop the air attack. 

“We’re actually going to rely on our secondary a lot and everybody is returning,” Day said. “…We’re going to rely on those ‘skinny skills,’ is what I call them to help us out.” 

The success of the secondary is important, but Dickson also needs contributions from the athletes in the trenches and at the second level. Casey O’Brien will be one of those athletes,  he finished with 76 tackles a year ago as a freshman linebacker.  

“We’re going to rely on him heavily on the defensive side of the ball,” Day said of O’Brien. “The defensive line is probably going to be a platoon type of deal. Play the freshest bodies there, which is good and bad.” 

The extra bodies are always helpful in football and the Comets have that benefit this season with only a few who’ve never played the game. Day hopes they can contribute, but only time will tell. 

As far as the schedule goes, Day wouldn’t pick one game to watch as he prefers to take the more conservative route. 

“This is cliché, but we try to take it week by week, obviously,” he said. “Our first focus is Hugo (at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 28), which is a non-district game. You want to win, you want to start your non-district (schedule) off with a win, get some confidence, start playing better and feel good going (into the rest of the season).” 

Dickson’s schedule sets up nicely for Day’s approach as the first three are non-district contests, followed by a bye week and then the Comets fly right into district.  

“The No. 1 goal is always to win the district,” Day said. “Everybody wants to win a state championship and I get that, and I understand that, but I want to win district first because that’s step one. Then you get to the playoffs and we take it week by week from there.”