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Williams, Dawson BHS senior athletes of year

Bearcats football player, basketball player and track performer Marquis Williams and Lady Cats softball and basketball player Zaikia Dawson are the 2008-2009 Bainbridge High School male and female senior athletes of the year. As a cornerback and kickoff and punt returner on coach Ed Pilcher’s Bearcats football team, Williams led Region 1AAAA in interceptions with eight, had 11 kickoff returns for 316 yards and a 28.7 yards per return average and 16 punt returns for 249 yards and a 15.6 yards per return average.

He was named first-team All-State by the Georgia Sportswriters and first-team All-Region 1AAAA as a defensive back and a special teams performer by the Region coaches.

Dawson won the co-best pitcher award with fellow senior Haley Rathel in softball. She and another fellow senior softball player, Vanessa Jones, who won the best infield award, received a special award that will be given annually in their names. It is called the Zaikia Dawson and Vanessa Jones Be Smart Put Out Award named for a special play that they used to record many infield outs.

In basketball, Williams and Dawson were both starting guards and team captains who helped lead their Bearcat and Lady Cat teams to Region 1AAAA championships and berths in the state Class AAAA Final Four.

Both plan to play college basketball, major in education and coach and teach.

Williams will be playing for the Jeff Davis Community College Warhawks in Brewton, Ala., and Dawson will be playing for the Darton College Lady Cavaliers in Albany.

Williams, who also runs the 200-meter dash and is on the 4-by-100-meter and 4-by-400-meter relay teams for coach Larry Cosby’s Region 1AAAA champion Bearcats track team, and Dawson said many adults have been role models in their lives and encouraged them along the way.

“My mother, Cassandra Dawson, who also played basketball at Bainbridge High School, was my biggest role model and supporter,” Dawson said.

Dawson also said Lady Cats head softball coach Eugene Singletary, Lady Cats head basketball coach Latreisha Moon, BHS guidance counselor Calvine Rollins and BHS vocational director Stan Killough helped her along the way.

“With our team and coach Rickey McCullough Bearcat team both winning the Region 1AAAA championships and advancing to the state Class AAAA Final Four, the girls and boys teams really rooted for each other,” Dawson said.

Williams agreed, pointing out that the teams were kind of like a family as their seasons went along.

He said two adults who always encouraged him to work hard and go after his goals were his mother, Cindy Willams, Bearcats head basketball coach McCullough and Lady Cats head track coach Tandria Phillips.

As successful high school athletes, Williams and Dawson both realize that young children look up to them and they take their responsibility of being role models for them very seriously.

“When children talk to me, I always try to tell them to work hard in the classroom and never give up in their athletic endeavors,” Dawson said.

Williams agreed, pointing out that he tries to encourage children to set high goals and go after them.