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STA focuses on fundamentals

Photo by Ryne Berthelot

SIGNAL CALLER -- Ryan Dawsey signals to his receivers during Tuesday's 7-on-7 against Bowling Green. Dawsey threw for six touchdowns.

It wasn't by accident that Saint Thomas Aquinas tight end Dustin Dyson found the end zone three times in Tuesday's 36-36 7-on-7 against Bowling Green, and it's something STA coach Randell Legette hopes to see more of come September.

Dyson caught five passes on eight targets and scored from 30 yards out after finding a seam up the middle on a pass from quarterback Ryan Dawsey. He scored twice more from five and six yards out before finally ending his day shortly before noon.

"With Dustin's size, he's a big target. Obviously that makes him a red zone threat," Legette said. "We're going to continue to find ways to get him the ball in the red zone. In the end zone, he's just boxing out and playing basketball."

While Dyson was winning jump balls over defensive backs in the back of the end zone, Adam Hetzinger burned the Buccaneers' defense for a 40-yard touchdown down the sideline. It was the second of Hetzinger's two touchdowns for the morning after he scored early in the contest on a quick pass in the red zone.

Dawsey anchored an effective passing attack by completing 19 of 24 passes for six touchdowns, but Legette admitted that his starting quarterback still had a few kinks to fix during the offseason. With a little more than a month-and-a-half before the season starts, Dawsey's already found a rhythm with Dyson, Hetzinger and Devon Wilson, but there's still some work to be done, Legette said.

"I saw some really good things from [Dawsey] today," Legette said. "He read things well and understood his coverage. It's just about the timing now, and all that takes is repetition. We have the rest of this month and a little bit of August to figure it out and have everybody on the same page."

Dawsey was spelled intermittently by incoming freshman Earl Jackson, who completed seven of 15 passes. Jackson took command of the second string offense but struggled to connect with receivers across the middle during most of his reps, looking for short passes in the flats with the occasional toss down the sideline instead. Jackson had a larger impact on defense, intercepting a pass near the sideline and breaking up several passes with the first string defense.

Jackson wasn't the only incoming freshman to make a splash -- Leontine Morgan hauled in Dawsey's final touchdown pass to tie the game at 36. Morgan played on both sides of the ball, acting as both a first-string safety and a wideout for the Falcons. Legette said that there's a possibility that both Morgan and Jackson see meaningful playing time this year. "The good thing about 2A football," Legette said. "A lot of guys can get reps on both sides of the ball and in different ways. As far as Earl's concerned, he's just a student of the game. He's a great kid with a great character, and he works hard. As time goes on he's going to get better and better. He and Leontine really have a lot of promise in their future."

The Falcons wrap up their 7-on-7 season against Loranger next week, but it's all with a grain of salt for Legette.

"We're just looking for reps. I'm not too fond of 7-on-7 because it's hard to transition to real football," Legette said. "You have a line in front of you [and] you have pressure on the quarterback and things like that. All of those things can change the trajectory of the game. I'm just looking for reps on defense, and for my quarterback to understand his reads on offense. It's just about the fundamentals."