Working on defensive drills, Dayton High School football players go up for a pass on their field nestled beneath the rolling hills of Dayton during a late evening pre-season practice Wednesday, August 22, 2012.
Photo by Matthew Zimmerman Banderas.
DAYTON — The 2012 Dayton Bulldogs are working to continue the positive strides made last season.
After finishing 2010 with a 1-8 record, Dayton made significant improvement in 2011 and finished with a record of 5-4.
What is not conveyed by those numbers is the fact that the Bulldogs were two points away from being 7-2, as two of those games were nail-biting, one-point defeats.
Coach Dean Bickelhaupt enters his third year at the helm with an experienced group of seniors.
Wyatt Frame returns to the defensive backfield, where he has been a two-year starter.
“Wyatt will see time at cornerback as well as wide receiver,” Bickelhaupt said. “He is very fast.”
Isaiah Lambert will start at running back.
“Isaiah is a real spark plug for us” said Bickelhaupt.
Lambert will also play some safety on the defensive side of the ball.
Alex Naylor and Chris Conley will anchor both the offensive and defensive lines.
Bickelhaupt described the duo as having put in a lot of time in the weight room and being ready to be leaders in 2012.
Of the underclassmen, junior Lowden Smith will start for the Bulldogs at the quarterback position. While he is returning from a wrist injury, Smith has shown maturity and the leadership qualities needed for the position early in the preparation for this season, according to Bickelhaupt.
Fellow junior Ryan Proctor is returning from an injury, as well, but is poised to shine from his fullback post as he also has been spending time in the weight room in preparation for 2012.
In addition, sophomores Stevie Gonzalez and Andrew Mendoza should be major contributors and will round out a Bulldogs team that its coach feels can be successful and improve on last season.
The Bulldogs plan to stay aggressive on both sides of the ball going in to this year
“We have a lot of hitters that love the contact and speed of the game,” said Bickelhaupt. “We will surprise a lot of teams this season. We are going to be faster and hit harder.”
The key games this season will be at home, with matchups against Southeast 2B foes DeSales on Sept. 21 and Waitsburg-Prescott on Oct. 5.
“I expect this season to be a tough and competitive one,” said Bickelhaupt. “I see the entire league being very balanced.
“Everyone in the league should be tough, and you can’t overlook anyone this year. Tri-City Prep has improved, and DeSales and Waitsburg-Prescott (the defending Washington state Class 2B champions) are always tough.”
Bickelhaupt is confident that this season is going to be successful.
“My expectations and goals for this year are for us to finish in the top three in league,” he said. “The playoffs are our ultimate goal.”
The new Bulldog season starts Friday, with Stanfield coming to Dayton.