By Gene Phelps
HOLLY SPRINGS – Dakota Dailey experienced physical and mental anguish during last year’s MAIS Class A state championship game.
Marshall Academy’s then junior quarterback stood on the sidelines at Mississippi College’s Robinson-Hale Stadium with an injured ankle during the second half of a’ painful 50-6 loss to Natchez Trinity.
“It was horrible,” Dailey said. “It was the worst loss I’ve ever been a part of.”
He suffered a high ankle sprain in the state semifinals, then exited the title game in the first half after aggravating the injury. Getting banged up is the price paid by a running quarterback.
Dailey, who has passed and rushed for 7,000-plus yards the last two seasons, wants to improve his odds of staying on the field by running less and passing more.
“In the past I’ve been more of a running quarterback,” he said. “I’d look for my receiver, then run when I saw green. That’s how I got hurt last season. I want to be more of a passing quarterback and try to keep from getting banged up.
“I want to be healthy all year.”
Dailey believes his work in 7-on-7 this summer helped him improve as a passer.
“I’ve gotten better at reading coverages,” he said. “I’m not going to just look for one receiver.”
First-year Marshall head coach Sam Pearson, who was the Patriots’ offensive coordinator last season, compares Dailey to a high school version of Johnny Manzel.
“I’ve got a great kid and great player, without (Manzel’s) showmanship,” he said. “He looked good in 7-on-7. He’s hanging in there, making his progressions, not running the ball. He recognizes his pre-snap and post-snap coverage. That should pay dividends.”
Dailey will have plenty of help in his team’s quest to reach a third consecutive state championship game … and win. Marshall lost two years ago to Brookhaven in the finals.
Running back Devin McGregor is a threat while receivers Jordan Harris and Colt Lindsey are back as prime targets.
“Our goal is to leave with a bang and bring Marshall it’s first state championship (in football),” Dailey said.