Thunder head coach Ken Sommers calls Dickerson the “heart and soul of this team.” That’s high praise as ODA possesses nine seniors that have dealt with three difficult seasons. So has Dickerson, who will feature on both side of the ball, like most ODA players, but in a prominent way. He’ll be the go-to tailback, while getting some Wildcat formation and other looks at quarterback behind starter Gus Mahler.
In the secondary, Dickerson is expected to help tighten a defense that gave up big yardage time and time again in a three-win season that didn’t yield a playoff berth in the Thunder’s last season competing in the Florida High School Athletic Association.
“He’s there to clean up and also to prevent the big play,” Dickerson said.
Sommers said the Thunder is switching it’s defense to a three-three stack, which will help athletic players like Dickerson stand out more in an attack-minded defensive look.
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“I think having Dakota back there making plays on the ball, assuring open-field tackles will go a long way,” Sommers said.
Dickerson shined in the spring game, amassing 146 rushing yards and ODA will need more of that for success in a maiden season in the Sunshine State Athletic Conference.
“He’s tough. He’s athletic. He’s been around football all his life,” Sommers said. “We count on him to do so much.”
DB to watch
Cody Cheney, Sr.
About the midway point of last season, Cheney became the shutdown cornerback that the Thunder were seeking. And two of the program’s three victories came in the second half of 2015.
“Rarely gave anything up to his side of the football,” head coach Ken Sommers said. “He looks great. ... Lightning fast.”
Ryan Ives, Fr., OL/DL
Weighing more than 200 pounds, Ives registers as a big body on both lines for small school Florida football. And he’s only going to get bigger with more development and training. But first, the Thunder have already seen his impact as a big reason why Dakota Dickerson ran for nearly 150 yards in the spring game.
At a glance
Herald’s forecast: 4-4
Joining the Sunshine State Athletic Conference figures to give ODA more competitive balance on the field. The Thunder struggled on defense and lost an up-and-coming quarterback in Anthony Squitieri, who transferred to Palmetto during the summer. It's now Gus Mahler's offense to run, but it's still a work in progress on both sides of the ball as ODA fans experience life away from the Florida High School Athletic Association for the first time this season.
Deep at: Wide receiver
Thin at: Linebacker
Head coach: Ken Sommers
Career: second season, 3-7 career record
at St. Petersburg
Christian,* 7:30 p.m.
Games start at 7 p.m. unless noted
* — SSAC Coral Bay game
Shorecrest Prep L, 18-6
at Admiral Farragut L, 48-0
St. John Neumann W, 28-14
at Tampa Cambridge L, 59-0
Bradenton Christian L, 55-40
Catholic W, 25-19*
Carrollwood Day L, 21-14
at Saint Stephen’s L, 47-7
at Seffner Christian L, 49-19
Canterbury W, 37-14
* — Overtime