Editor's note: This story is part of The Daily Citizen-News' 2019 High School Football Preview. Pick up a copy of Thursday's paper, Aug. 22, or stop by our office for a physical copy of the special issue.
Dalton High School football coach Matt Land doesn't get tired of talking about senior running back Jahmyr Gibbs.
The Georgia Tech-commit gives everything he can at all times, but Land is wondering how everyone else can back him up as a unit.
If the Catamounts want to make the playoffs this year, something they didn't do on a rare occasion last season, Land wants to see them surrender the things that make them comfortable.
He said it starts with him.
"We have to be able to surrender ourselves to get to our goals as a team," he said. "There were things that I needed to advance in as coach, and I've had to surrender some of my time to get there.
"Last year I was not satisfied with our team performance. I was not satisfied with our staff performance, and it was all driven by the dissatisfaction with myself. No one is immune when you have a down year. There's something for all of us to share in a year like last year."
There's no doubt that a lot of eyes will be on Gibbs this year, expected to improve on his junior campaign as the Daily Citizen-News' Football Player of the Year. Scholarship offers came flooding in for the speedy back this past spring including from Purdue, LSU, Syracuse, Mississippi State, Virginia Tech, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Michigan, amongst others, until he committed to be a Yellow Jacket in late May.
"If Jahmyr wasn't a good kid and I was forced to hide something about him, that's when it would not be fun to talk about him," Land said. "This kid is better off the field than he is on it. It's very rare to get one who is that special all around."
With Gibbs' leadership, Land said the Catamounts are only talking about last year as a means to learn what they can do better. To turn it around, they also return senior quarterback Landon Allen and a strong offensive line as part of the team's 39 players ready to get back the field from last season.
"We've got a really good core," Land said. "Landon's really matured a lot. He worked very hard this summer and has gained a lot of respect from his teammates."
One thing that Dalton will have to piece together will be what it's missing in star kicker and punter Ivan Mora who graduated this past spring. As that develops, the returners who have seen playing time have already surrendered themselves to one thing -- an understanding -- bringing lots of others with them, Land said.
"There's outstanding chemistry right now," he said. "They really do understand playing for each other and with each other. At any time there's 10 to 15 guys hanging out. It's looking like there won't be any kind of accountability issues."
Coach: Matt Land (10th year)
2018 record: 6-4, 4-4 in Region 6-6A
All-time school record: 640-243-21, first season in 1924
Region championships: 22, most recent in 2016
State championships: one in 1967
2017 record: 7-4, lost in the first round of playoffs for Class 6A
2016 record: 13-1, lost in the semifinals of playoffs for Class 6A
2015 record: 9-3, lost in the second round of playoffs for Class 5A
2014 record: 9-3, lost in the second round of playoffs for Class 5A
Impact players: Landon Allen (senior, quarterback) -- 74-for-150 passing for 964 yards and five touchdowns last season; Jahmyr Gibbs (senior, running back) -- 163 carries for 1,431 yards and 20 touchdowns with 20 receptions for 192 yards and one touchdown last season; Lane Cox (senior, linebacker) -- 73 tackles last season. Osbaldo Beltran (senior, lineman); Manny Vega (senior, lineman); Malachi Gregory (senior, defensive back)
Keep an eye on: Josh Moore (senior, running back); Hunter Noland (junior, receiver); Cristian Lama (senior, lineman); John Ross (senior, lineman); Parker Adams (senior, defensive back); Tyson Swope (senior, linebacker); Gabe Hill (senior, linebacker); AJ Hernandez (junior, defensive back); Filemon Quintero (junior, kicker)