2001 All-Southern football team: POETRY IN MOTION
MERE WORDS CAN'T DESCRIBE THE EXPLOITS OF PLAYER OF THE YEAR DICKEY
Gavin Dickey, just entering his teenage years, sat idle in his home and started to write. The words flowed onto the piece of paper. "I don't really know how I got interested in writing poetry," Dickey said. "I was just sitting at home, and I just starting writing and it just starting rhyming. And I just kept writing ever since."
Now 18, Dickey's love for poetry remains, but some of his greatest artistry has come on the football field. The starting quarterback at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, Dickey orchestrated his team's offense with a steady hand, as a poet laureate might arrange his verse.
Earlier this month, Dickey led the Trojans to their second state championship in three seasons. That accomplishment, coupled with his 30 touchdown passes and 1,064 yards rushing, merited Dickey a spot on the Orlando Sentinel's 83rd annual All-Southern high school football team.
His leadership skills, though, earned him the nod as the Sentinel's player of the year in Florida.
"He's always saying something to keep everybody focused," said Lincoln offensive lineman Brandon McCray. "But when it comes down to it, he's a team leader, and teams like to hear from their leaders."
Moments before the kickoff of the Trojans' Class 4A title game, Dickey stood before his teammates to read a speech. "He was talking about how much he loved and cared about his teammates and his coaches," Lincoln Coach David Wilson said. "I think he was challenging everybody on the team -- players and coaches -- to give their all for the next 48 minutes."
The result: a 28-20 Lincoln victory against Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas. The victory capped a 14-1 season for the Trojans, who are ranked ninth in the country in USA Today's Super 25 and are likely to move up when the final poll is released Wednesday.
It also ended Dickey's high school career on a high note. He amassed a 43-5 record as Lincoln's starting quarterback. In 17 playoff games with Dickey directing the offense, the Trojans went 15-2, with their two losses by a combined three points. Their 16-14 loss to Bradenton Southeast in 1998 ended with a missed field goal. Two years later, the Trojans lost 21-20 to Melbourne Palm Bay in overtime when their extra-point attempt was blocked.
Perhaps the memory of those errant kicks drove Lincoln players' and coaches' thinking in one of this year's most memorable playoff games. Trailing 45-44 in double overtime at Pensacola Pine Forest, the Trojans had a choice: Go for the tie with an extra point, or go for the win with the two-point conversion.
Coach Wilson called a timeout.
"It was amazing," Dickey says. "The whole offense said, `Go for two!' I mean everybody was just that confident that we could get those two points."
The play, "Jumbo right, naked pass left," relied on Dickey. He faked a handoff right and rolled to his left, where two Pine Forest players waited.
Dickey stopped, threw a pass over the defenders and hit tight end Justin Woody on a crossing pattern in the back of the end zone. Game over.
"We basically had him hemmed up, and he made a good play to get the ball," Pine Forest Coach Jerry Pollard said. "I think basically he was the difference in our game."
Wilson said the play "will stick out in the minds of Lincoln fans forever."
Even before his senior season, the 6-foot, 190-pound Dickey had caught the attention of college coaches. His 4.4-second time in the 40-yard dash and strong right arm -- he can throw a football 75 yards -- made sure of that. The coaches have inundated Dickey's home with phone calls all fall.
Dickey stands out in baseball and in sprint races during track season. He's such a good athlete that some college coaches have wanted to move him to cornerback or wide receiver.
But Dickey, who patterned himself after former Florida State signal-caller Charlie Ward, has maintained he only will attend a school that wants him to play quarterback.