Explosive Sawyers plays final home game tonight
Carson High’s Dylan Sawyers has been arguably the most dynamic offensive player in Northern Nevada in the last decade.
Some may consider that a bold statement, but it’s backed up by some very impressive numbers.
Sawyers, a 5-foot-10 180-pound senior running back, enters the final home game of his illustrious career at 7 p.m. tonight against Bishop Manogue with 68 touchdowns, 3,473 yards rushing and 755 receiving yards.
What’s even more impressive about those numbers is that he missed eight complete games – seven because of injuries – and the second half of at least a half-dozen others because of lopsided scores in nearly three years.
You can count on the fingers of one hand the number of games he didn’t score at least one touchdown, and in the 26 games he has played (Carson has played 34) he has 21 multiple-touchdown games.
Sawyers has put up those career numbers with a combination of quickness, power, NFL-like vision and jaw-dropping cutbacks. He is the complete package albeit in the stockier variety.
“He reminds me of that McQueen kid (Chris Carr),” Carson assistant coach Shane Quilling said. “Carr was bigger. He had unbelievable feet and vision. You don’t teach that. Dylan has those same qualities. He’s one of the best I’ve seen in the last 10 years.”
“Chris Carr a little bit,” Roman said. “In the sense that they both have great vision and both of them have a great first step. I’m not saying that Dylan is better than Carr.”
The Carson senior carries himself with a quiet confidence. He’s not a chest-thumping ego maniac type of guy. He acts like he’s done it before because he has.
“I’ve been around Dylan for four years, and for a player of his caliber, he has one of the best attitudes I’ve been around,” said Roman. “He is far from arrogant.”
Sawyers’ attitude stems from his passion for the game. It’s a game he has played since he was old enough to play Pop Warner. He was good in baseball and basketball in his younger years, but neither sport gives him the rush that football does.
“I love this game,” said Sawyers, who has rushed for 1,204 yards and has scored 25 times this year. “I get the opportunity to come out and play everyday. I just try to come out and do the best I can on every play.
“I definitely wish I could have played every game the last two years. I missed seven (because of injuries), so that’s almost one full season.”
As a sophomore, he missed one game because he’d intended to enroll at Manogue and then changed his mind. Because he didn’t have enough practices in, he missed the season-opener against Spanish Springs. He suffered a hip injury in 2010 which caused him to miss four games, and he missed three games this year with a calf injury.
It cost him a chance to achieve some goals that he had set for himself prior to his junior year.
“Before my junior year I had goals that I showed to coach (Roman),” Sawyers said. “I wanted to be all-league and all-region on both offense and defense, and I wanted to run for 2,000 yards in a season. It’s tough (to do) when you miss as many games as I have.”
“I think he could have run for 2,000 yards each of the last two years,” Roman said. “He puts team success over individual success. He doesn’t obsess over his numbers.”
Sawyers has grown both physically and mentally the past three years. He’s able to move piles more than ever before because of increased leg strength. He said he hasn’t done many squats in the weightroom because of past injuries.
“I have a greater understanding of our blocking scheme,” Sawyers said. “It helps knowing where the linemen are supposed to be; where the cutback opportunities are and knowing where to bounce (outside).
“I’m bigger and stronger than I was as a sophomore. I’ve probably gained almost 30 pounds since then. I’ve put on a lot of muscle in my upper body.”
Anybody following Carson football since Sawyers came onto the scene has been treated to exciting run after exciting run.
Two of his better runs this year came last week when he scored five touchdowns in Carson’s win over Damonte Ranch. It was his second straight five-touchdown game.
In the fourth quarter from the Damonte 15, Carson ran a toss play to the short side of the field. What makes it tough is that the sideline offers the defense an extra defender, leaving the runner less room to maneuver.
Sawyers took the toss and started toward the sideline. He tapped his feet almost as if he was running in place and then exploded through the hole. He ran through a couple of tackles to score a touchdown.
“That was a great run,” Roman said. “Dylan saw the crease and exploded. It was a great example of his God-given ability.”
“It showed a lot of different skill sets,” Sawyers said. “I jumped through that hole and I was able to get through a couple of tackles to the end zone. It (the cutbacks) is just reaction. You don’t have time to think. It’s not something you learn.”
Roman was more impressed with one of Sawyers’ runs in the third quarter.
“We ran a trap in the third quarter,” Roman said. “He broke seven tackles and then dragged four guys for several yards. It was as good a run as I’ve seen, small hole and all.”
Damonte coach Tony Amantia, who didn’t have to face Sawyers in the first meeting this season, was impressed with the Carson standout, who finished with 145 yards rushing.
“He has a great change of direction,” Amantia said. “We didn’t tackle that well that night, but he’s a good football player and a big-time talent.”
Reed coach Ernie Howren told the Reno Gazette-Journal that Sawyers is “a game changer.”
Ever since he burst on the scene, Sawyers has shown the ability to finish runs, whether it’s to get a few more yards in the middle of the field or to get into the end zone. He’s tied for second in the state in 4A rushing touchdowns with 23 and seventh at 172 rushing yards per contest.
“He just sniffs the end zone,” Roman said. “When he’s near the end zone it’s like he finds another gear.”
Much to the chagrin of the Senators’ nine Northern 4A opponents.