The origins of Dameon Pierce Part 2
Published 4:28 pm Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Dameon Pierce was unstoppable throughout his time in rec football, but with each step the competition becomes harder as some kids grow and improve and others hit their peak. Middle School football is more challenging than rec league and high school football is a whole new ball game from the middle school competition.
The stories of kids that dominate through rec league and even into middle school and then disappear in high school are a dime a dozen. As the competition got harder, Pierce refused to be stopped, though.
He dominated in middle school, leading his team to back-to back undefeated seasons and two more championships to add to his long list of rec league accomplishments. He had the chance to try other sports and spent a little time playing basketball, but nothing except football stuck.
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“When he got to middle school, I though he might pick up another sport that he might want to indulge in, but he didn’t,” Rogers said. “All throughout middle school, he was the same exact player.”
The new high school coaching staff, which was hired before his eighth grade season, quickly took notice of Pierce and he even spent the summer before eighth grade working out with the high school team.
“When I got here–my first year was 2013–he was in the eighth grade, I had heard a lot of great things about how special he was on the football field,” Littleton said. “He was bigger, faster, stronger than everybody.”
They knew not to take too much stock in a kid because of what he could do in middle school, though. So many kids before him had dominated at that level before becoming just another player in high school.
“At that age you’re thinking, ‘Wow, he’s really a special athlete,’ but you’ve seen that before,” Littleton said. “You’ll see a seventh or eighth grader; they’ll dominate at that level and a lot of times it’s just because they’re bigger and faster. I’ve seen them come to high school or varsity and just be an average player because they stop growing or whatever and everybody catches up to them.”
It was quickly apparent that this would not be the case with Pierce. He worked at the game in the weight room and on the field. The kid that seven years before had been signed up for football against his will worked to become the best player he could and not let his natural talent go to waste.
“He’s excelled,” Littleton said. “He’s one of those that kept improving. Kept getting better. He worked hard in the weight room to get stronger. He had a lot of support behind him.”
From the moment he stepped on the field in high school, Pierce was already one of the best players on the team, as had been the case his entire life. At only 14, he was one of the strongest players in the weight room and one of, if not the, best athlete on the field. The coaches didn’t want to rush him into action on the field, though. They brought him along slowly. First putting him on defense and then easing him into the rotation on offense.
“I had never been through something like that where a 14-year-old was that talented,” Littleton said. “He was one of the best athletes on the field at age 14 and that’s different. You don’t come across that very often…As the year progressed, he got better and better and we started giving him the ball a lot more. You could tell by the end of the game, he was still on the rise. He had the stamina to keep going and he just got better.”
Eventually, the coaches had no choice except to let him loose and give him the keys to the offense.
“One game, Tramaine [McCray] had got hurt,” Pierce said. “Coach [Larry] Cosby said you already know what time it is Dee. The first thing that went though my head was don’t mess up, don’t mess up. I almost did mess because I went to get the ball and I almost fumbled it. I had to adjust to the game speed. I wasn’t used to the game speed at all. That was the biggest change from middle school to high school.”
He finished his freshman season with 910 yards on 164 careers with seven touchdowns, and from there the team was officially his. His name started to spread too as college coaches and recruiting services saw what the locals had seen since he was seven years.
“It was two springs ago, the MVP Camp that they held in South Georgia, I’m out there with couple others guys in the business and we’re watching different players at different positions,” 247 recruiting analyst Chris Nee said of the first time he saw Pierce. “Early in the camp when the players are working in their position groups, I look towards the end zone and I see the running backs working. I see this kid that is built like a brick house.”
Nee had no idea who the player was, but he was immediately impressed and when he found out how young Pierce was he was blown away.
“Physically he is impressive, athletically he’s impressive,” Nee said of his first impression. “I walk over and ask him expecting to hear I’m going to be a senior at so and so high school next year, but instead he says I’m going to a sophomore at Bainbridge next year, I’m a freshman now. Physically he just jumped out at you. I was surprised to see a kid that well put together, that could move like he did at that position, who was that young.”
The camp proved to be just the beginning of an impressive year for Pierce. He had been good his freshman season as the reigns were slowly loosened, but his sophomore season, he was fully cut loose and it led to one of the best seasons in school history.
“His sophomore year, just an unbelievable year,” Littleton said. “He had over 2,000 yards rushing… we didn’t have to give it to him a lot early so when the fourth quarter got here and the other team was tired, Dameon was getting better. He was getting stronger so that ended up being good for us.”
“That sophomore season was something special,” Dameon added. “We worked hard in the weight room and we came together as a family. We practiced hard we got our grades. Everybody was on the same page and we had a historic season. The O-line clicked well. We just had a whole lot of athletes, a whole lot of talented guys.”
This story will conclude in the Dec. 31 edition of the Post-Searchlight.