Smith not your average defensive player

by Dave Boehler Review Sports Editor

PLYMOUTH’S DAWSON SMITH sacks the quarterback in his team’s 41-0 victory at Kettle Moraine Lutheran on Friday. — Photo by Tyler Luedtke PLYMOUTH’S DAWSON SMITH sacks the quarterback in his team’s 41-0 victory at Kettle Moraine Lutheran on Friday. — Photo by Tyler Luedtke There aren’t many athletes like Plymouth’s Dawson Smith.

“We don’t get a whole lot of football players/swimmers,” Plymouth football coach Dan Knaus said. “That’s kind of an unusual double. We did have another defensive end probably 15-20 years ago that was a really good swimmer. So I don’t know if there’s any correlation there between swimming and defensive end … I think part of it is their bodies are lean, they’re quick and they move well. So that helps a lot at the high school level.”

There aren’t many defensive ends that are Smith’s size, either.

“He’s always been kind of undersized but plays with a great motor,” Knaus said. “Last year he was just kind of used as a third down defensive end for pass rush. This year he’s an every down guy. But he’s not your typical 6-3, 220-pound defensive end. He’s more of a 6-2, 190-pound kid.”

Smith agreed.

“Normally they are probably 25 to 30 pounds heavier, which I feel like my size kind of helps me a little bit because I am a bit more quicker than the offensive tackles would be,” Smith said. “So it’s easier for me to beat them off the ball.”

The senior is one of the reasons Plymouth’s defense is rolling.

He finished with eight tackles and two sacks Friday in a 41-0 victory at Kettle Moraine Lutheran to give the Panthers a 2-0 record in the East Central Conference and 3-1 overall.

Smith, who qualified for the state swim meet in all three relays and helped the 400-free relay take sixth place thanks to a school record time last year, says he actually uses a swim move during football games.

“I club with my left hand on the shoulder pad of the offensive lineman, then use a fast swim stroke with my right hand and push him out of the way,” he said.

It has helped Plymouth’s defense allow just one touchdown in winning its last three games, as the unit intercepted three passes and had three sacks against the Chargers (1-3, 1-1 in the league).

Plymouth’s Sam Shutter had six tackles, one sack and a forced fumble, Jack Nytes also had six tackles and Cooper Gosse, Joe Steinhardt and Aiden Reilly had the interceptions to lead the Panthers to their third straight shutout over Lutheran.

Offensively, Cole Booth completed seven of his nine passes for 100 yards and three touchdowns.

“They gave us the short, intermediate passing game and we took advantage of it,” Knaus said. “A lot of it was guys catching the ball in the 5- to 10-yard range and getting yards after the catch.”

Booth’s first touchdown pass was caught by Nytes for a 15- yard score and 6-0 lead in the first quarter. Goose and Booth added short touchdown runs later in the quarter.

The Panthers also scored three times in the second quarter, beginning with a 6-yard touchdown catch by Nytes, a fullback normally known for his bruising blocking ability.

“Both of the touchdowns he caught he was in the flat and then he just kind of ran over people to get in the end zone,” Knaus said. “Even when we go to spread look sometimes he’ll be lined up as a slot receiver because he can catch the ball. It’s not new, but it’s what the defense gave Cole, and Cole checked off to that route.”

Goose added his second touchdown, this one from 12 yards out, before Booth capped the scoring with a 10-yard TD pass to Ben Olsen.

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