Fort Smith Northside’s move back into the 7A-West conference has been welcomed by Daytrieon Dean with open arms.
The three-star defensive end and Arkansas commit spent the last two seasons with the Grizzlies in the 7A/6A-Central. Despite the upgrade in competition, Northside is 6-1, tied for first in the conference and ranked No. 4 in the state by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
“It’s probably one of toughest conferences in the state,” Dean said. “We face top talent week in and week out. I like it. At first, I thought we might struggle, but we’ve been fortunate. I’m glad we moved.”
Led by Dean, Northside’s defense has allowed only 18.6 points per game.
The Grizzlies’ only blemish was a 29-26 road loss to Bentonville, which is led by four-star junior quarterback Kasey Ford. The loss came just one week after Northside knocked off Fayetteville, which is led by a pair of Arkansas commits – tight end C.J. O’Grady and safety/linebacker Dre Greenlaw.
Northside hosts Springdale Friday and Springdale Har-Ber the following week, but Dean admits it’s difficult to not look ahead to the Grizzlies’ Week 10 matchup with cross-town rival Fort Smith Southside.
“It’s hard not to look forward,” Dean said. “Northside hasn’t beaten them in eight or nine years. We really want to snap that losing streak. It’s a rivalry game and is biggest game of the year, but we have to take it week by week.”
The last time Northside beat Southside was 2005. Since then, the Grizzlies have lost nine straight to their rival.
These last few games will be particularly special to Dean because they will be some of his last actions as a Northside student.
Dean, who signed a financial aid agreement with the Razorbacks in August, will enroll at Arkansas for the spring semester. He said it’s hard to believe he only has a couple months left in high school, but he knows it will help the team and himself as a player.
“I’m nervous,” Dean said. “It’s crazy to think about it like that. It’s a huge step from high school. I’ll be on my own.”
He is one of three defensive ends committed to Arkansas in the Class of 2015, along with Junction City’s Jamario Bell and Hutchinson Junior College’s Jeremiah Ledbetter.
Dean said he believes that teamed with Bell and Ledbetter, both of which are rated as four-star players, the trio could easily continue Arkansas’ recent tradition of talented defensive ends, such as Chris Smith and Trey Flowers.
“I feel like we can probably go a little further and be a little better,” Dean said. “All three of us just need to work together and put in a lot of hard work.”
While Dean’s confidence is high, he said it wouldn’t affect his work ethic.
“I’m going into UofA with attitude of a walk-on: Work hard every day with no slacking,” Dean said.
Dean Enjoying 7A-West Competition
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