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High school football: Talent is a given for Lorain's Daylin Dower, but the junior has leadership skills to match

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    Lorain junior Daylin Dower got the season off on the right foot last week, rushing for 195 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Midview. He did all that in the first half.

    KRISTIN BAUER / CHRONICLE

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It was 7-7 in last week’s season opener at Midview when Lorain’s Daylin Dower decided enough was enough.

“It was a trap play,” Dower said. “I know Arthur (Lucas) and Yousef (Alzeer), like we always preach — run fast through the hole and be patient. Arthur and Yousef got around that corner. I just hid behind Arthur and then I saw that hole open and I broke it.”

It’s easy to hide behind Lucas and Alzeer, two Titans senior offensive linemen. Lucas is 6-foot-4, 287 pounds and Alzeer stands 6-2, 274.

Dower waited for the hole to open and then did his thing, going 85 five yards for the touchdown that put the Titans ahead for good and gave them a 44-14 win, their first over Midview since 2011.

Dower was instrumental in the win, rushing for 195 yards on just nine carries and scoring twice — all in the first half.

“There’s a couple plays there where he didn’t get any blocking,” Lorain coach Dave McFarland said.

“He zig-zags through there. He makes people miss.”

The game didn’t start all that well for the Titans or Dower. Lorain sputtered on its first series and Midview drove for the opening score and a 7-0 lead but the Titans quickly took the momentum away.

“That first series, I think we had some first-game jitters,” Dower said. “Couple plays we were just getting a feel for the game. We had a lot of new kids out there.”

There were a few question marks coming into the season for Lorain, especially on the offensive line, but there was no questioning Dower’s talent.

“No doubt,” said McFarland, when asked about the 6-1, 181-pound junior. “I think Daylin might be the best I’ve ever coached. He’s got great potential and if he stays healthy, the sky’s the limit for him. He runs hard, he’s got great lateral speed and when he gets going, he’s hard to stop. It’s fun to watch him.”

McFarland should be a pretty good judge of talent. He played on the same team with Bryan Thomas at Elyria Catholic. He knows all about Al McKinney, another EC legend. Plus, he’s had his share of standout players he’s personally coached over the years.

Dower started for McFarland as a freshman, mainly seeing time in the secondary but he got his feet wet on offense as well. Last year, as a sophomore, he excelled, breaking lose for 1,500 yards on the ground and scoring 20 touchdowns.

His personal goals for this season are certainly attainable — 2,000 yards rushing and another 20 touchdowns. He’ll also see situational duty in the secondary again this season.

“I think what most people will end up liking the most about him is he’s a lockdown cover corner and those are hard to come by,” McFarland said. “He doesn’t play a lot of defense for us but he may end up being a defensive-sided player.”

Not only is Dower an outstanding athlete and player but McFarland relies on his leadership as well. Dower has also shown assets that don’t always show up in a great athlete — humility and intelligence.

“He’ a great kid, has an infectious smile,” McFarland said. “Even as an underclassman, he was one of our leaders. He gets our kids going with his play and his leadership. He’s a great role model, He works at the Boys & Girls Clubs. He loves working with those little kids and they all look up to him. He embraces that idea of being a role model.”

McFarland believes Dower has the potential to play football in college.

“Do the right things in the classroom and on the football field and something good will happen,” McFarland said. “Where? Depends on this year, probably. He certainly has the ability. He’s got people’s attention. … Great players make great plays in big games.”

Dower will be expected to make some of those impactful plays every week. Tonight’s at Euclid will be good test. While it’s not a league game both teams are highly rated in the area.

“It’s going to be a dog fight,” Dower said. “I expect it to be a good game. Who wants it more? If we’re going to want it more or is Euclid going to want it more? I feel like the way we’ve been practicing this week and our focus, we want it more.”

“For us, it will tell us lot as to where we are,” McFarland said. “It’s a long football season. You want to continue to grow and find out where you’re at. We’re going to find out because (Euclid) has a great football team and I think their entire offensive and defensive lines returned maybe. If we can hold water (tonight), we’ll be an awful good football team.”

McFarland knows it all starts up front with his relatively young and inexperienced offensive line. At Midview, the line passed with flying colors but this week brings a whole new challenge for players like freshman center Jacob Addis, the “baby,” as Dower and the rest of the line call him.

Some baby. Addis is 6-1, 237 pounds. He’ll be surrounded by seniors Lucas, Alzeer and Jace Tarpley along with junior Khalyn Thomas.

“Real pleased because they’re very young,” McFarland said. “We lost everybody. We had a big line last year. It’s a point where you say to yourself as a coach, ‘If we stumble, it’s because of our line this year’.’ That’s our weak spot on the offensive and defensive line. We were real pleased with how they played Friday night. They’re tough kids. They just have to continue to grow and get better.

“We’ll be as good as those kids mature and grow.”

Contact Tim Gebhardt at (440) 329-7135 or at timothygeb@msn.com.


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