NKY High School Football Spotlight: Dayton
Dayton football has fallen on some lean years on the gridiron during Chad Montgomery’s time there as head coach. In the last five years, the Greendevils have not been able to surpass the three-win mark in a season. This year, though, the stars have aligned just right to give the Dayton football faithful plenty of hope to work with.
“We’re actually looking to have a big year. We’re going to get over the hump. This will be my fifth season, so I’m kind of thinking that this will be the year for us to get it done,” Montgomery said.
The Greendevils can feel reassured about their optimistic outlook going in to 2015 because of how many starters they have returning: seven on offense, and seven on defense. Along the offensive line, Dayton fans will recognize each member who have come back from last year. This is the third year each of them have started.
Senior Dillon Adams is a four-year starter at quarterback and knows Montgomery’s system inside and out which can only help bring his team out of the cellar.
“We should be on the same page. We should be good to go,” Montgomery said. " The biggest key for us every year is injuries, that’s always a big factor for us. That’s kind of what happens every year. Last year, one of the guards got hurt in a scrimmage, so it’s just a matter of us staying healthy.”
If health remains on their side, Dayton pulls no punches in the fact that they are serious about making a real impact in their Class 1A district this season.
“Our goal is definitely to get into a home playoff game. We’re at least trying to get that number two seed.”
One could see small steps of improvement a year ago when the Greendevils were on the short end of the stick in a handful of games. They lost four games in the fourth quarter, and two in heartbreaking fashion. Montgomery said that the fatigue factor of many of his players playing on both sides of the ball likely played a part in those setbacks.
“Every year, the team is excited but this group really feels like they’re going to get over the hump. We really believe that this year. Injuries are a factor, but we feel that we have a squad that can definitely get over the hump and get back to at least a .500 season and hopefully more than that. Our schedule features a lot of teams similar to us. We took the weight off with some of the schools that are bigger and more athletic than us so we tried to make our schedule, not necessarily favorable, but more comparable to other schools our size.”
The schedule this year features two matchups against Bellevue, which used to be an annual tradition between the two schools when Montgomery played for Bellevue while in high school. He doesn’t mind playing the Tigers twice, but he would have liked to have seen the previous format of facing Bellevue in the first and last games of the season.
“We decided to go back to that. It was a tradition when I played at Bellevue. We played Dayton twice and it went on for many years. I welcome it, I have no problem with it,” he said. “The only thing I didn’t like about it is that when I played in the rivalry, we always played Dayton in the first and last game. The fact that we can’t do that because of KHSAA and the way the districts are set up, I wasn’t really in favor of playing them two games a year, just because I liked it when it was the first and last game. Now it’s Week 2 and Week 9, so they’re a little closer. I wish it was the way it used to be.”
Nonetheless, the Greendevils will host the Tigers and other teams to their historic playing surface that has been in existence for many decades, largely unchanged. Montgomery embraces the rustic nature of their home field and says that it sometimes catches other teams by surprise.
“It’s very unique,” he said of their field. “When I played at Bellevue, Dayton was my favorite place to play. It’s a neat little setting. It’s still grass and half the bleachers are falling through, but it’s cool with the trees and the hillside and its view of the skyline. I think it’s an advantage. I think when teams come over who have never seen it before they’re kind of awestruck."
Dayton opens their season at Bishop Brossart on Friday, August 21.
Story by Bryan Burke, associate editor/Photo: RCN file