Dalton Swires’ inclusion in The Standard 10 is a bit of a no-brainer.
The junior, who isn’t afraid to turn his body into a battering ram when running with the ball, got several of the carries for the Predators last season. This year, Fox Creek will be without top rushers Jaquan Williams and Ikel El. Plus Swires has added some bulk in the offseason.
The result of this perfect storm will likely be ample opportunities to see Swires bowl over defenders this season, which makes him The Standard 10’s No. 9 player to watch.
“I’m not a flashy guy,” Swires said. “I’m not really big on juking. If I need to get by someone, I’d rather just hit him.”
The strategy seemed to work fairly well for Swires last season. He averaged six yards per carry and finished the season with 350 yards and six touchdowns.
“Dalton is going to get a majority of the carries out of the backfield,” Fox Creek head coach Russ Schneider said. “He’s got the attitude you want your rusher to have.”
Unfortunately for the opposition, that power rushing attitude isn’t going anywhere this season. If anything, Swires has more incentive to take on defenders. He added about 10 to 15 pounds, according to Schneider. He has spent his summer working out and playing baseball, and the results are evident.
“He has been working out pretty hard. He does some stuff with a trainer, and he’s also been working out with the baseball team he plays for this summer,” Schneider said. “He’s an exciting kid to watch; he loves contact, so the added muscle is not good news for the teams we play.”
As a two-way player, the strength will also be useful when he lines up at safety on defense. He sees it as another opportunity to hit people.
Swires said his philosophy is one in which he uses his strength to make up for any disadvantages he may have height-wise.
In terms of his team goals, Swires wants to take Fox Creek to new levels. He believes the team has what it takes to build on the success it had in 2013. The Predators, at 6-4, missed the playoffs because of the points system, but had a better record than some of the Class A teams who qualified for the postseason field. Despite moving to a different region where the Predators only familiar foe will be Ridge Spring-Monetta, Swires is confident in his team.
“It might be different going into a different region, but if we work hard and play together, we’ll be just fine,” he said. “We can build on the success we had last season.”
One of Swires’ personal goals is to become a better leader. That’s the attitude Schneider wants to see from Swires, who has firmly cemented himself as one of the leaders on the team.
“He’s a young, quiet leader. Having him as a part of the team is big. He and (Cory) Lucas will be the leaders of the team,” Schneider said.
His time on the baseball diamond has helped Swires in more ways than building strength. Being a dual-sport athlete has given him a chance to learn more about running smoothly as a team as well as a chance to see the importance of finishing off opponents.
“(Baseball) Coach (Wesley) Brown always says step on their throats. We can really apply that on the football field. When ahead score wise, we don’t stop. We keep pressing hard,” Swires said.
Swires and the Fox Creek offense will have to adjust to not having Brown on the sidelines as the offensive coordinator this season. Swires said it will be different, but shouldn’t be too drastic of a change.
“Some of the plays may change a bit but not too much,” Swires said. “Coach Brown is a great coach, but it’s just one of those things you have to adjust to. We still have a strong coaching staff.”
Regardless of the coaching changes, you can expect Swires to be on the field giving 100 percent.
“His aggressiveness and passion is big.” Schneider said. “That’s the guy you want as an example. He has no desire to quit at all. He never want’s to come out of the game. You can count on seeing a lot of him.”
This story is the third part in a series highlighting the top 10 Players to Watch in the Aiken area for the rapidly approaching high school football season.
• July 21 — No. 10 DeAngilo Drayton, SB
• July 22 — No. 9 Dalton Swires, FC
• Wednesday — No. 8
• Thursday — No. 7
• Friday — No. 6
• Saturday — No. 5
• Sunday — No. 4
• Monday — No. 3
• July 29 — No. 2
• July 30 — No. 1
The order was determined by Aiken Standard sports editor Noah Feit, staff writers Jeremy Timmerman and Eric Russell, North Augusta Star news editor Scott Rodgers and staff writer T.J. Lundeen, as well as ASTV broadcasters Ed Girardeau and Ken Brace.