Dunn That: SSHS middle linebacker is spiritual, emotional leader

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Sept. 11, 2007 - You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who has something bad to say about Josh Dunn - unless maybe it's an opposing running back.

Dunn, an SSHS senior, is the top tackler for the Wildcats as middle linebacker. Sulphur Springs coaches say he leads the team emotionally and spiritually as well.

"He leads the team in bench press, he leads the team in tackles. You know what he does on the football field, but on top of everything, he's a great kid - a great kid with a great attitude, tremendous work ethic, a desire to win," said SSHS head coach Greg Owens. "You don't worry about his grades, you don't worry about his character. Josh is going to do right.

"Things are falling right for him, but it's not coincidence. It's hard work and time and effort and dedication."

Dunn is a two-year starter on defense, having led the team in tackles last year with 125 stops. This season, he already has 28 tackles in two games, including 18 against Whitehouse on Friday. He also has caused and recovered a fumble and recorded a sack.

To opposing players, he must seem like a terror. On the contrary. Dunn, who is in the top 10 academically in the senior class, leads Bible study on Friday mornings for his teammates.

"He's a well-rounded kid," Owens said. "He's probably the most well-respected young man on this football team throughout all classifications. He's one of those rare kids you get in a career who's got it all, the ability, the attitude, the work ethic and the character."

Dunn, who also starts at catcher for the SSHS baseball team, was a regular at The Edge summer workouts, and he even led a Bible study afterward. At the end of the summer, he bench pressed 325 pounds, the most by anyone in the program. He also got faster.

Steve Hale, defensive coordinator, said it's no coincidence. It's a product of his hard work and positive attitude.

"He's the best all-around football player I've ever coached," said Hale, who was DC for LaMarque's 2003 state championship team. "He never has a bad day with his attitude. He comes out and works hard every day. He makes the other people around him work hard. He demands maximum effort.

"There are some days he picks me up. He's a positive role model for everybody that's around him. He praises the offense, he praises special teams and he leads in the locker room. He's just a complete package."

When he's not on the football field, Dunn said he mostly just hangs out with friends and goes to church at Full Gospel House of Prayer. His creed on the football field is to go hard every play.

"Sometimes it gets hard, but you have to push through it," he said. "You can't play full speed some of the time, you have to play full speed all the time."

At middle linebacker, he is charged with making adjustments and checking that all the other players are lined up where they are supposed to be. On more than one occasion, Coach Hale has told Dunn that this is "his defense."

"I feel a lot more comfortable because we have a lot of two-year starters, and the coaches are really breaking it down and teaching us," Dunn said. "We're real strong up front, and we have to use that to get better."

Dunn was an offensive lineman as a freshman, but was moved to outside linebacker, then to the inside. Hale said he fits the mold of a middle linebacker.

"He brings a motor that's nonstop," Hale said. "His conditioning in second-to-none. You're not going to tire him out, and he doesn't take any plays off. He's going to get to every football, he's going to go a million-miles-an-hour."

Dunn will likely have the opportunity to play either football or baseball in college, though he's not sure where he's going after high school.

Coach Owens said he'll make an impact anywhere.

"Josh is going to be successful because of his character, his attitude and his work ethic," Owens said. "He's successful in the classroom, on the football field, on the baseball field, and he'll continue to be."

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