Dixie County football preview
By Mike Ridaught
Twitter – @ridaught
Last year, first-year Dixie County (Cross City) head football coach LB Cravey wanted to make the state playoffs.
The Bears won their first six games in 2019 before injuries took their toll, but Dixie County still made the Class 1A playoffs as a number three seed in Region 3 despite losing its final three regular season games.
It was the sixth appearance in the past seven years for the Bears.
Cravey, who begins his seventh season on staff, looks to make it back-to-back state playoff appearances as he enters his second year as head coach.
“The Dixie County Bears are excited and hungry for the opportunity to take the field again,” said the 2006 Dixie County alum.
Cravey, who had served as the Bears’ defensive backs and quarterbacks coach from 2014-2018, will have to replace Gainesville Sun Super 11 running back Fitzgerald Warren, who missed three games because of injury late in the season but still rushed for an average of 112.7 yards per game.
Jaydon Malone, who rushed for 630 yards (7.2 ypc) and eight touchdowns as a junior, will try and fill that void.
Plus, Sam Cannon returns at quarterback.
Cannon, who threw for nine touchdowns with only one interception, will provide some key leadership on offense.
The most important position battle heading into the fall will be the offensive line, which graduated four out of five last year.
“We have the skill and a group of young players in the O-line ready to fill some big shoes left to them from great players,” said Cravey.
On defense, the Bears will return seven starters from a team that held 1A playoff teams Trenton & Hawthorne to a total of 21 points.
Depth will be a concern as Cannon, Malone, senior FB/LB Keaton Brown, senior OL/DE Thomas Smith, junior WR/CB Brenden Hall, junior FB/DE Paras Clines, and junior RB/Safety Kolton Hunt will play on both sides of the ball.
To make it back to the postseason, Dixie County will have to finish in the top six of the 9-team Class 1A-Region 3, which includes 3-time defending state champion Madison County and Union County (Lake Butler), which eliminated the Bears in last year’s FHSAA Regional Quarterfinals.
They will get a good test to start the year on Friday, August 14, when they travel to Class 3A Trinity Catholic (Ocala) for the Kickoff Classic.
Dixie County will open up the regular season at home against Taylor County (Perry) on Friday, August 21.
School: Dixie County High School (Cross City)
Coach & year: LB Cravey (2nd year)
Number of starters returning on offense/defense: Six return on offense & seven return on defense
Key losses: Fitzgerald Warren, Easton Locke, Austin Roberts, Ervin Sapp
Key returning players: QB Sam Cannon (Sr.), RB/CB Jaydon Malone (Sr.), FB/LB Keaton Brown (Sr.), OL/DE Thomas Smith (Sr.), WR/CB Brenden Hall (Jr.), FB/DE Paras Clines (Jr.), RB/Safety Kolton Hunt (Jr.), OL Javarian Henry (So.)
Key newcomers: FB/LB Scott Hysmith (Sr.), WR/S Carson St Laurent (Jr.), OL/DL Trevor Chapman (So.)
Most important position battles heading into the fall: Offensive line (graduated 4 out of 5 last year)
Outlook/Expectations: “The Bears have found ways to overcome the adversities that fall in our path whether it was a new coach or injures and will do the same with the current situation of our nation. The Dixie County Bears are excited and hungry for the opportunity to take the field again. The boys will play and practice every day with their all. I believe that. I believe in our team and they believe in each other! We have the skill and a group of young players in the O line ready to fill some big shoes left to them from great players.” – Coach Cravey
2020 football schedule
8/14 at Trinity Catholic (Ocala), Kickoff Classic, 7 p.m.
8/21 vs. Taylor County (Perry)
8/28 at Trenton
9/4 at Union County (Lake Butler)
9/11 vs. Williston
9/18 vs. Chiefland
9/25 at Hawthorne
10/2 vs. Lafayette (Mayo)
10/9 at Newberry
10/23 at P.K. Yonge (Gainesville), 7 p.m.
10/30 vs. North Florida Educational Institute (Jacksonville), Homecoming
All games at 7:30 p.m. unless noted
Class 1A-Region 3 (top 6 make postseason)
Dixie County (Cross City)
Hamilton County (Jasper)
Union County (Lake Butler)