The Bearden football coaching staff is adamant about being humble and pushing the mentality of “TOI” – team over individuals.
That is truly the embodiment of Bearden senior wide receiver Dawson Houser.
Possessing a still tongue with a booming presence on the field, he is one of the most important leaders in this senior class, even though he leads quietly.
“He may not be the most vocal, but our guys know what he is about,” offensive coordinator and QB Coach Paul Shelton said. “They know what he lives by. He is a good leader because of that.”
In a football locker room, many personalities congregate together. Almost always in the midst is that unspoken leader.
Houser’s team realizes the effects of his actions.
“He does a really good job leading; not just his words, but his actions as well,” sophomore quarterback Collin Ironside said. “He’s a really good example of a hard worker.”
Houser started the 2016-17 season as quarterback, but Ironside took over the starting job when Bearden played Farragut in the fourth game of the season. Coach Shelton and head coach Morgan Shinlever didn’t want one of their best athletes on the bench, so they moved Houser to wide receiver, where he quickly became one of the team’s best.
“He runs like a 4.5 [40-yard dash],” Coach Shelton said. “We have to have a deep threat, and he’s got to be that guy stretching the defense and backing them up a little bit.
“That’s what we’re looking for him to do.”
The Bulldogs lost starting receivers last year, but the coaching staff, along with the team, have confidence in Houser’s abilities.
“I think his best quality as a receiver is his speed and his wits,” Ironside said. “He knows all he needs to because he played quarterback as well.
“He knows a lot of aspects about the game that most receivers don’t know because of his experience at the quarterback position.”
Coach Shelton said Houser entirely embraced “TOI” when he changed positions last season.
“He was extremely selfless,” Coach Shelton said. “He showed his teammates that he put the team over himself.”
Houser, though, is quick to point out the leadership of his fellow seniors.
“The senior leadership has been out of this world,” Houser said. “We’ve done a lot to change the attitude of a lot of the underclassmen, and that make us an overall better team.”