By GENE PHELPS
HOLLY SPRINGS – When high school baseball season ended in May, Marshall Academy shortstop Dakota Dailey returned to quarterback.
“Right after baseball, I started lifting (weights) for a state championship,” said Dailey, who passed for 2,400 yards and rushed for 965 yards last season in directing the Patriots to the MAIS Class AA state championship game. “We want to make it back.”
There’s some unfinished business. Marshall lost to Brookhaven in the 2012 title game. The Patriots have dropped down a classification – AA to A – for this season.
“I think I’m a better player,” said Dailey, a junior and three-sport standout. “I’ve played other sports (he’s the point guard in basketball) and I know I’m getting stronger.”
Second-year coach Bart Jenkins believes Dailey’s commitment to the weightroom has improved the player’s overall game.
“He’s a competitor to the core,” Jenkins said. “His knowledge of the game and arm strength have improved so much. He’s polished. You know you’re going to get 100 percent out of him.”
Dailey will have plenty help in his quest to return the Patriots to the championship game. He will be joined in the backfield again by junior running back Devin McGregor, who rushed for 1,622 yards last season.
“His progress last season was mind-boggling,” Jenkins said. “He got better and better each game. He improved running, protecting the ball and blocking.”
McGregor joined Dailey in the weightroom when baseball ended.
“I’ve lifted pretty hard,” McGregor said. “When you notice that you’re getting stronger it gives your confidence a boost. I think we’re going to be a stronger, more physical team this year.”
Another highlight for the Patriots is the return of four offensive linemen – Jacob Driggers, Stephen Elgin, Josh Mask and Dalton Pritchard. A talented transfer from Benton County, Hunter Huff, joined the team in the preseason.
“It’s good to have a veteran offensive line with a feel for the game,” Jenkins said.
The Patriots welcome a new offensive coordinator, Sam Pearson.
“Once we hit our stride, we’re going to be very, very good offensively,” Jenkins said.