Slade Dale opened and closed the scoring for Ringgold in its county supremacy battle with Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe and led the comeback as the Tigers rallied for a 14-9 victory.
Asked where he would have been Friday night without Dale, Ringgold coach Robert Akins laughed and said, "the same place we'd be every game. In trouble."
The Tigers quarterback ran for 211 yards and passed for another 46. One of the passes, a 36-yard completion on a third-and-20, was pivotal in the comeback, eventually leading to Dale's 3-yard scoring run with 30 seconds to play. He also had a long interception return and the total effort led to his being named the Times Free Press Player of the Week.
"He's just a playmaker," Akins said. "He's probably 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, and that might be pushing it, but he has intangibles that you can't measure like you can height, weight and speed. He's really elusive. He can make some moves and most of all he's a competitor."
He is such a competitor that the only time Ringgold coaches leave him off the field is in kicking situations. Other than that he's going to play every play.
"We know every week that he's going to cover the opponent's premier receiver. In addition to his offensive role that's a lot of pressure, but he always does a great job with it."
Friday wasn't necessarily a typical game. There are times when the Tigers' have left the running game on the sidelines and gone with a spread offense, but even then Dale has the freedom to run.
After Friday's game he is averaging 132 rushing yards per game and 9.6 per carry with 12 TDs but he also has passed for 1,144 yards and 16 TDs with eight interceptions. His per-game total offense is 257.9 yards.
"I guess I can live with that," Akins said. "He also has three interceptions and numerous game-saving tackles. He's just one of those kids who are always around the ball. He's just an outstanding player. Kyle Sholl is our leading scorer but Slade is the guy that makes us tick."
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...