The Pulaski County Cougars are preparing for a season that will be unlike any we’ve seen before. And it’s the first season for new head coach, Mark Dixon.
Before signing on to lead the Cougars, Dixon was previously the head coach at Galax. During his time there, Galax won a state title in 2015, and finished as runners-up in the 2011 and 2019 seasons.
During his time with the Maroon Tide, he finished with six region championships in ten seasons.
Coach Dixon is looking forward to keeping the well-known PCHS football tradition alive.
“I’m super excited,” Dixon exclaimed. “I certainly know the tradition of Pulaski County football and Coach (Joel) Hicks. I’ve met him before and so I understand how important football is to the community and that really just got me super excited at the chance to just try to continue the tradition that he built.”
Dixon said he is good friends with his PCHS predecessor, Coach Stephen James. “So, I had some insight there. On this side of the state, this is the job! To have an opportunity to come here and be a part of the tradition is an honor for me and my wife,” said Dixon.
Dixon will be taking over for James who resigned after accepting a teaching position at George Wythe High School.
Last season, the Cougars finished third in the River Ridge District with a 9-3 record. During the season, the Cougars finished 5-1 at home, 4-1 on the road, and 0-1 on neutral turf.
When asked about what he’s looking forward to the most this season, Dixon said he is looking forward to watching his players grow.
“I’m just looking forward to watching these young men grow, I can’t wait to see them grow and become better players.”
Dixon said the school has been following COVID protocols to keep within the Virginia High School League guidelines, and he has been impressed with how the players have been handling things.
“We’ve been keeping up with the protocols, the school and the administration has been great about everything, doing everything we can to make sure that there is a football season. I’m also super proud of the boys, they’ve been handling every little curveball that’s been thrown their way,” he said.
This season will be different from other season due to the fact that it will be starting during February, as opposed to the beginning of fall.
When asked about any concerns, Dixon said that the weather was a big one.
“I would say that the big concern right now is the weather. It is a new thing, in terms of playing in this weather. We’re having to practice inside more than we’re probably used to. Trying to find time to be efficient in a gymnasium or in a parking lot, while still getting the work done to get these kids ready to play.”
Dixon is also still trying to figure out what his starting lineups for both defense and offense will be. He does say that offensively, he wants to be more physical.
“Long story short, we’ve always run the ball a ton and then last year we threw it more, but historically we like to be physical and run the football.”
On the defensive side of the ball, he wants to continue the things that Pulaski has been doing in order to help the kids to be in the best position possible.
The roster is currently made up of 47 students, all ready to make some noise this upcoming season.
Players returning from past season include 6 ft., 180 lb. sophomore quarterback, Cam Cooper. Next up is Ethan Gallimore, a 5 foot 10, 195 lb. senior who will be playing at the fullback and outside linebacker positions.
Another returning player will be Chase Dotson, who will be playing as wide receiver and both safety positions. Joining them will be 5’7”, 150 lb. senior, Jacob Crabtree, who will be handling both the kicker and punter duties.
Returning to play wide receiver will be senior Parker Arnold. Another returning player will be senior lineman Clayton Phillips, who stands at 6’3” 285 lbs.
On the defensive line, 6’4” 250 lb. senior Cooper Dunnigan will be returning as defensive tackle.
When asked about the Coaching staff, Dixon seemed to be very impressed with what he’s seen so far.
“I believe that this is the same staff from the previous season, and these guys are great. They’re wonderful guys, they love Pulaski County, and Pulaski County football. I’m blessed to inherit such wonderful coaches.”
The Cougars will start the season against Cave Spring on Monday, February 22, 2021 at 7 p.m. at Bogle Field.
By LUCAS GOAD, The Patriot