It’s shaping up to be a good summer for area wide receivers.
The same week North Murray senior receiver Jacob Mays was named an all-star at the Cam Newton Foundation 7-on-7 tournament, Dalton’s Brandon Dale earned the top honors at the Mike Hodges quarterback and receiver camp.
Held June 2 to 6 at Middle Georgia College in Cochran, the Hodges Camp hosted more than 400 high school football players from across the state, including more than 150 junior and senior wide receivers. Hodges, who never had a losing record in 15 seasons as a high school football coach in Georgia and directed two West Rome teams and another at Thomasville to state titles, was recently inducted into the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame at the trade center in Dalton.
The Catamounts’ Dale, who will be a senior this school year, was named Best Receiver for the week by the camp’s instructors.
Dalton coach Matt Land said out of the camp’s participants, nearly 20 players who have already committed or have Division I scholarship offers in hand were beaten out by Dale for the top honor. One of the better known players at the camp was Sandy Creek junior Demarra Kitt, who has already committed to Georgia.
“It wasn’t like he went down and beat a bunch of church camp kids,” Land said. “This was a really top-notch program.”
Dale said he was surprised but gratified to bring home the camp’s top award for a receiver.
“There were a lot of great athletes down there,” Dale said. “When they called my name, I was shocked, but at the same time, I thought that I deserved it. Whenever he called my name, I just thought to myself that hard work really does pay off.”
After shining on offense, defense and special teams in 2011, Dale was an “athlete” selection for The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Football Team.
He finished his junior season with 16 catches, including four touchdowns, for 241 yards. He added a 59-yard touchdown run and even had some all-purpose yardage from punts and kickoffs. As a part-time defensive back, he finished with 53 tackles an interception and a forced fumble.
The trip to Cochran was the second exposure camp for Dale this summer after participating in a Jacksonville (Ala.) State camp at Rome’s Darlington School. He will also take part in camps at Mercer University and Georgia Southern.
“I hope to open up some eyes,” Dale said. “It is a chance to get some exposure. It will definitely help, but I have to keep working hard and prove myself on the field.”
Located just south of Macon, Middle Georgia College experiences sweltering summers, with the campus blanketed by oppressive heat and humidity. Dale said the introduction to those brutal conditions did not bode well for the week.
“After the first full day, everyone was just beat,” said Dale, who went to the camp with 11 teammates. “I looked at the guys and said this is not going to be fun. But it got better as the week went on, and overall it was fun because everyone was just looking to get better.”
Land said Dale’s progression during the summer is the result of his hard work and dedication to football. A pitcher for the Catamounts’ baseball team, Land said Dale has taken the summer off from the diamond in favor of the gridiron.
“In all of our workouts this summer, he has not missed a day,” Land said. “He is a guy that is always going to give you his best effort. The more he plays, the better he gets. The more he is on the field, it is almost like his endurance gets better.”
Even though Dalton has been primarily a running team in recent years, with star backs carrying much of the offensive load during Land’s first two seasons as the Cats’ head coach, getting the ball into Dale’s hands will be a priority this fall.
“Brandon is a guy that we can get the ball to whether we are running the ball or throwing the ball, and it isn’t as part of a wildcat package,” Land said. “He is a guy that we are going to get the ball to in as many different ways. There are a lot of different ways we can get the ball to him.”
Dale just wants to make a big contribution to his team.
“I like to make plays,” he said. “At Dalton it is not a big passing game, and in order to get the ball I have to make sure I do my job by blocking on every play. If I am blocking for someone and they score, that is just as good.
“I would like to get the ball and make plays, but at the same time, if my calling is just to block, then that is my job and I am going to block like it is my last chance to block.”
Cats WR brings home top honor
It’s shaping up to be a good summer for area wide receivers.
All-Area Softball Team and Player of the Year: Cruse was emotional leader for Lady Bruins in state title repeat
Whatever situation Northwest Whitfield High School’s softball team found itself in this season, senior catcher Bayli Cruse’s emotions were in step with the Lady Bruins’ pulse.
A Look Ahead: Basketball soon starts to heat up
When you are getting into a cold pool, most people just jump right into it. Some sort of ease their way into the water so the shock of the coldness doesn’t attack every nerve at once.
That is sort of the way it is with the high school basketball season as well. Usually there isn’t a whole lot of meaning in the first month of the season, so no matter what happens, it really doesn’t affect a team’s postseason chances. So we are all still sort of easing into the water.
Middle School Roundup: Mustangs snap long losing skid
The Eastbrook Middle School boys basketball program broke a 54-game losing streak when its seventh-grade boys beat Gladden 32-20 on Thursday.
Young wins state title, headed to National
Dalton High School swimmer Ethan Young earned a spot at this upcoming weekend’s Speedo Winter Junior National Championships with a win Saturday at Georgia Tech in the Georgia State meet in the 100 backstroke.
Michigan State topples Ohio State in Big 10
INDIANAPOLIS — Michigan State shook up the BCS title chase again Saturday night.
Seminoles cruise in ACC championship
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Another game, another blowout for Florida State.
Prep roundup: Northwest girls keep pressure on
Northwest Whitfield’s girls basketball team routed Tennessee’s East Ridge at home on Saturday with a 72-20 win.
The Lady Bruins (5-1) didn’t allow a single point in the second quarter and stretched their lead from 25-5 to 43-5 at halftime. In the third quarter, Northwest lengthened its grip to 61-11.
Roadrunners stay hot with road win
The Dalton State College men’s basketball team led by five at halftime and by as many as 14 in the second half as the Roadrunners rolled to their 11th victory in 12 games with a 76-68 win Saturday night at Hiwassee College in Madisonville, Tenn.
Working the late shift
Trailing Christian Heritage School by three points with less than three minutes to play Friday night, Southeast Whitfield’s boys basketball team needed a play to grab the momentum from the Lions.
Prep roundup: North Murray girls start Region 5-3A play right
North Murray High School’s girls basketball team was victorious at home Friday against a “tough” Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe squad.
- More Sports Headlines
- All-Area Softball Team and Player of the Year: Cruse was emotional leader for Lady Bruins in state title repeat