HUNTSVILLE – Most high school football players do not amass 2,000 rushing yards in their entire career. Dawson Holt has done it in less than a season and a half. The senior quarterback ran for 265 yards and two scores on 30 carries to spark the Grainger High School Grizzlies to an impressive 24-0 win at Scott High School last Friday night. And along the way, Holt surpassed the 2,000-yard mark in career rushing.
With the victory, the Grizzlies even their record at 2-2 and will host defending 4-A state champion Elizabethton High School at The Den this week.
“Dawson is a great football player and most of all, he is a great leader for us,” Grainger head coach Chad Tate remarked when asked of his field general’s accomplishment. “That’s the most important thing, because when you are a great leader, people will play for you and fight for you. I’m glad God blessed him with a lot of speed and that makes me really happy as a coach. Dawson is a special player and I am just so glad for him, and all of our seniors, as they have stayed the course the past few weeks.”
Holt was not the only player to produce highlights in the game. The Grizzlies’ defense completely shut down the Highlanders’ offense.
Scott finished the game with an anemic 109 total yards. Reggie McBee continues to be a menace to opposing offenses as he again recorded 10.5 tackles to lead the Grainger defensive effort. Kaden Cardoza also had a big night, which included an interception and a recovered Scott fumble.
Tate praised both his players and his defensive coordinator for their game plan and execution against the Highlanders. “For the past few weeks, I’ve thought the defense played great with a few little uh-oh’s here and there, but we put it together tonight. Coach (Steve) Finchum always has our guys ready to play. Our guys went out and played a great game on that side of the ball and I couldn’t be more proud of the staff and our players, especially our seniors who have fought through some adversity.”
Holt was not only a passer but also became a receiver. The Grizzlies went with a razzle-dazzle call on the game’s first play and Reggie Bush hit Holt with a 16-yard pass. That set an early tone in the game that the Grizzlies were going to erase the memory of the last two matchups against Scott, which finished in close losses.
“That was a little something we had been working on for a while,” Tate said of the play. “That is part of what we do. We want to get the ball to Dawson in space and that was a great way to get it out there to him. Reggie made a great throw and it was a well-executed play.”
Grainger scored the only touchdown of the first half. Holt picked up 43 yards, keeping the ball four straight times, and finding the end zone on a 22-yard scamper. McBee added the two-point conversion and the Grizzlies were on top 8-0. That was how things stood at the half.
In the second half, Cardoza made one of many key defensive plays for Grainger when he fell on a Scott fumble at midfield. The Grizzlies went right to work, putting together another scoring drive. Just as he had done on the game’s first play, Tate decided to run a play the Highlanders were completely not ready for. Reggie McBee threw a 16-yard pass towards the end zone where his brother, Hunter, hauled it in for the score. Reggie ran in untouched for the two-pointer to put the Grizzlies ahead 16-0.
Tate said the call was both a way to catch Scott unaware, as well as out of necessity, due to his regular signal-caller’s minor injury to his throwing hand.
“Dawson had banged his finger and he couldn’t throw anything deep, so we felt like we had that play and Reggie did a great job of getting it to his brother and Hunter made the play. A brother to brother play is not something you get to see a whole lot. These guys are such great players that you just have to stay out of their way and let them make plays,” Tate said.
As if there were not enough highlights already, Holt provided another one with the longest play of his career.
Scott had nailed a strong punt that backed the Grizzlies up all the way to their own four-yard line. Holt called his own number and it was off to the races on a 96-yard run. He displayed the kind of speed that made him an All-State selection in 2019, and has him knocking on the door of earning the honor once more.
Holt said he knew the Highlanders’ defenders were hot on his trail but did not know just how close as a sense of urgency bolted into his mind, and his feet, to blow by the Scott players trailing him.
“I didn’t know how close the defender was so I knew that I had to bust it into a different speed. I just kicked it into another gear and had to go,” Holt said.
Reggie McBee capped the scoring as he converted the two-point attempt after Holt’s touchdown to produce the 24-0 final. McBee is now six-of-eight on two-pointers, has produced 133 yards of total offense this season and leads the defense with 37 tackles.