By RICK PETERSON
According to Emporia State football coach Garin Higgins, former Rossville star Dawson Hammes approaches everything he does on the football field with passion and dedication.
And Higgins has no doubt that Hammes is going to treat his new role as a Hornet captain the same way.
"It starts with his work ethic,'' Higgins said. "He's one of those guys that he's going to lead through his actions first because he practices the same way every day. He lifts weights the same way and it could be a jog through and he's going to be focused and he's going to give great effort.
"If you just watch him in practice and you turn the film on you're going to see relentless effort. Does his speed change ever? Never.''
Hammes, a 6-foot, 211-pound redshirt junior linebacker, helped Rossville win three straight state championships while playing for his father, Derick, a former Hornet himself, and Higgins said Dawson's upbringing shows through.
"You can tell that he's grown up around football and you can tell that he loves the game,'' Higgins said. "Those are the type of guys that you want to get.''
Hammes, who recorded a career-high 11 tackles against Washburn, was ESU's third-leading tackler in 2019, recording 70 total tackles with 8.0 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.
Still, Hammes, who has two years of eligibility remaining, was surprised when he got the news that he had been elected a team captain by his ESU teammates and coaches.
"I was honored, it was awesome,'' Hammes said. "You're trying to pave the way for the young guys and it paid off. They ended up voting for me and I'm thankful.''
At this point Hammes doesn't plan on following Derick into coaching, with Dawson on track to earn a Master's Degree in Business Administration next spring, but he said he's learned a lot from his dad that he uses on a daily basis.
"One hundred percent,'' Dawson Hammes said. "I see it myself and people even say the same thing, that they see a little bit of my dad in me. He's definitely showed me what it's like to work hard and the dedication that goes into this great sport and what you can get out of it, what you can learn from it.''
What Hammes learned from losing the entire 2020 season to COVID-19 was how much he missed the sport.
"It was a tough one, obviously,'' Hammes said. "We prepared all summer just to end up feeling like nothing, but we found out a lot about ourselves and a lot of the young guys got a lot of reps and we're developing as a team.''
Now Hammes and his Hornet teammates are determined to make up for lost time while also improving on a 4-7 record in '19.
"Everything that we've put into this, we've been waiting for two falls, so it's finally coming together and we're excited to get out there and fly around.''