Countdown to Kickoff: Dunnellon Tigers

Tommy Sutton era begins for Tigers
Dunnellon looks to stay consistent
Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 7:09 PM EDT
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DUNNELLON, Fla. (WCJB) - Becoming successful is one of the toughest things to do in life or sports, but sustaining it is even harder.

At Dunnellon High School, the Tigers have achieved a winning season for the past decade and don’t plan on slowing down.

“They say you play how you practice and if you’re not physical here, you’re gonna get bullied. It’s as simple as that,” said Dunnellon senior lineman Jaylin Johnson. “We Practice high, things like that. We’re physical everyday, day in, day out.”

However, adding another winning season to their record book may be a tougher task than in previous seasons. Dunnellon has a new head coach, and among the 14 seniors removed from last year’s team, they have to replace four-year starting quarterback Trent Townsend.

“We gotta couple guys right now, and those names will come out August 19,” said Dunnellon’s first-year head coach Tommy Sutton. “I Don’t wanna put one name ahead of the other right now. We’re kinda in the middle of it right now with summer workouts, FCA camp and everything like that. So we still have quite a few days left to stack some good days and see who comes out on top.”

Sutton played football at Dunnellon in the 1990s and has been apart of the Tigers coaching staff for 14 years. He understands the kind of pressure that comes with taking the hometown job.

“It’s easy here because the expectations are always gonna be the same no matter who’s in charge. From one guy to the next, the town demands quality product on the field, in the community, and in the classroom and that’s what we’re gonna strive for.”

One other change for the Tigers, this fall, will be playing against different competition. In 2021, Dunnellon was listed in Class 5A, but this season will be in Class 2A Suburban. The change in classes realigns them with old school opponents.

“I’ve been playing here since pop warner, so I would come to the football games in the stands watching them play Crystal River, South Sumter, teams like that. It’s always been good games and I couldn’t wait to come to high school and play in those games.”

The Tigers quest for a third state championship begins at home, on August 26, when they host West Port.

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