Fayetteville Begins New Era Under Billy Dawson

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FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM)--For the third time in three seasons, Fayetteville has a new head coach roaming the sidelines. After Daryl Patton and Bill Blankenship led the Purple Dogs to back-to-back 7A state championships, Billy Dawson looks to do the same.

"Well we have a great tradition here. I mean, guys have won five of ten, they've been to seven or eight of the last ten," Dawson said. "So there's great tradition here and our guys need to relish that and what it is. But none of that will win a game this year."

Especially considering that Fayetteville lost its quarterback, 2016 Gatorade Arkansas Player of the Year Taylor Powell and all-state defensive lineman Akial Byers to graduation (both will play at Missouri). In fact, the Bulldogs have just five total starters back.

The lone defensive returner, cornerback Cemari Dobbins understands the new approach. "Coach Dawson preaches that we build off the past but we don't sulk in it. So it's a new year, some new guys new year so we have to come prepared."

As a member of the senior class, Will Litzinger has played under three different coaches and sees one thing that sets Dawson apart from his predecessors.

"His tempo. There's no days off, you gotta be ready to play every single day. So we just come to practice prepared and are ready to get the season going," said Litzinger.

"Well it's the tempo of practice and just the way we want to practice things. You know, I don't want to waste their time, I don't want them wasting our time," Dawson added.

For a school that has had as much success as Fayetteville (53 wins in the past five seasons), there's pressure to sustain excellence.

"Expectations are always high, but I feel like there's a high expectation and for Coach Dawson it's an even higher expectation," Dobbins said.

Junior quarterback and first year starter Darius Bowers leads Fayetteville into its tough non-conference slate, starting September 1 at Blue Springs, Missouri.