No. 31 can be seen walking up and down the sideline, taking squirts from a water bottle as he laughs it up with teammates. But once he steps on the field, the smile disappears.
“He’s a pretty laid-back guy off the field,” Surry Central coach Monty Southern said. “But then they see him step it up and start hitting people on the field. All the kids respect him, I can tell you that. Nobody crosses Wade.”
Some people lead by example, others are the fiery type that like to get in someone’s face. Dawson uses a different method.
“The way I look at it, get everybody loosened up and try and lighten the mood a little bit,” Dawson said. “Try and have a little fun on the sideline.”
Dawson said breaking the tension and keeping a light mood works best for him and it helps his teammates as well.
“I really don’t think that yelling at a player really helps them do anything,” he said. “Just give them a tap on the helmet and tell them to get it right the next time.”
Those friendly leadership characteristics help Dawson and the rest of his teammates get along away from the gridiron. On Fridays after games, they usually get together to play video games like Madden football on Xbox. During the week, they usually find time to go out to eat together.
Dawson has raised his profile from last season, when he was a defensive stalwart. This year, the Golden Eagles use him on offense as a runner and pass catcher. Dawson has delivered so far, scoring on the ground and through the air.
That has not limited his defensive output. Dawson (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) usually makes a point to visit the opposing team’s backfield from his defensive end position.
“Last year, he was mostly a defensive player,” Southern said. “This year, he’s really stepped up for us. There’s not a lot of times he steps off the field. The good thing is, that doesn’t limit him defensively.”
Amid everything Dawson brings to the Golden Eagles, Southern would like one more thing from his senior player.
“I wish we could have him back one more year,” he said.
Contact Ed Phillipps at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1921.