Dinwiddie was just a few plays from ending their season with the ultimate- a state championship. After coming up short to Salem, by all accounts, the season came to a pretty rough stop. The Generals are back with a refined approach and don’t want to repeat last year’s history.
“We had 16 seniors this offseason that had 100 percent attendance in the weight room,” Mills said. “That’s four days a week, three hours a day, Monday through Thursday,” he continued. That’s a big commitment right there, we also had some younger guys do that as well.”
One of the team’s seniors also made a photo collage of Salem celebrating on the field. He asked Mills to post it so that everyone is constantly reminded of what could have been- and hopefully will be this season.
Departed are quarterback Bryce Witt (Chowan) and wide receiver/safety Tye Freeland (Howard). Dinwiddie also lost a chunk of experience off the offensive and defensive lines- Miles Scott, Davrod Davis, Timothy Fields, DaVon Clayton and Trevon Wilkerson have all departed.
“I’ll miss them all, they are like sons to me,” Mills said. “I’m there at every workout. I’ve known some of these kids since they were 10 or 11 years old. It’s always tough.”
Mills said that every team has their little niche and he believes that this team has found it.
Quarterbacks: Junior Kymon “Petey” Pope will be the starter this season. The younger brother of K’Vaughan Pope, he’s been the back-up quarterback since his freshman season and is ready to go. Mills said that he had a great preseason and his leadership has shined. “He’s a good of a running back as the ones we have and he can throw,” explained Mills. “He’s worked hard to get his throwing motion and accuracy right.” Pope has the potential to develop into a big time college prospect, and this is the beginning of that path.
Running Backs: Zyan Sturdivant (offer from Army) is undersized but has proven to be a stud for the Generals. His speed and shiftiness are well complimented by J.T. Tyree, who is called a ‘bull’ by Mills. Tyree injured his leg last year and returns to give Dinwiddie a fierce 1-2 punch. “He runs angry, plays football angry and is a force and is probably one of the more aggressive players we’ve had.” Sophomore Jasiah Williams will take over Tye Freeland’s role where he’ll slide in and out of the backfield depending on formation. Cody Mills and Blake Williams will get snaps at fullback.
Wide Receivers: K’Vaughan Pope headlines this unit and Mills says that he’s one of the best receivers in the area. “He’s really honed in on the little details offensively,” said Mills. Da’quan Wilson and Tyrese Hawkins (6-2, 180) will share the outside receiver position while Jasiah Williams will get time on the unit as well. Mills said that Hawkins is the fastest player on the team, but has raw skills as a wide out. A transfer from Texas, Trey Reese will see time here. Omar Tyson and K’Vaughan Pope will see time at tight end.
Offensive Line: Despite the losses to graduation, the Generals line will be one of the biggest in the area. Jacob Edwards (6-3, 315) is the strongest kid on the team in the words of Mills and has Division I potential once he puts the package together. At right guard, Shamon Gholson started every game as a sophomore, was injured last season and returns. Center is between Kenneth Granderson (6-1, 270) and Joey Meadows (5-9, 270). Jayion Blunt is back at left guard. Brandon Harris returns at left tackle. “Our size is born in the weight room,” said Mills. “We feed them as much as we can- we eat, we lift and we run.”
Defensive Line: Jacob Edwards, Cody Mills, Omar Tyson, Blake Williams will see time on the defensive line in the rotation. A sophomore, D’Anta Johnson has impressed early with great size, but is still working on his conditionings. Williams is intriguing here, as Mills said he went from being a ‘good linebacker’ to a ‘great defensive end.’
Linebackers: Ohio State commit K’Vaughan Pope will be flanked by Zyan Sturdivant and J.T. Tyree, making this quite a formidable combination. All three athletes arguably have Division I potential. Sturdivant and Tyree are known for their skills at running back, but Mills said that he’d put the unit up against anyone in the state.
Defensive Backs: Daquan Wilson played a lot of corner last year and got time with Jakari Batts (who graduated) went down with injury last season. Junior Trey Reese will start here after starting at corner for his team in Texas. Jasiah Williams will play safety after starting at the position as a freshman. Junior Cirdale Luccess is an all-state track guy. Along with Robert Barlow, both will get playing time on a unit with depth.
Special Teams: All-State kicker and punter and senior Todd Anspach is back and has despite how good he has been, has some competition. Senior John Howell has pushed him for the punting job. Cody Mills will long snap again and hasn’t produced an errant snap in the past three years.