Boyle County linebacker Lamar Dawson doesn't like to talk. It's just not his thing.
The way the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Dawson figures it, he has teammates who can do the talking. He prefers to simply go out and play.
"I just try to lead by example," Dawson said. "That's my way of being a leader. I just tried to get better and make sure everybody was working hard."
Few can quibble with Dawson's work ethic or his talent. The senior was selected Mr. Football by members of The Associated Press after leading Boyle County to another state championship.
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Dawson received seven player of the year votes from the panel of more than a dozen media members across the state. Ballard wide receiver DeVante Parker, Bell County linebacker John Hilton, Pulaski County running back Alex Abner and Christian County wide receiver Marcoreyon Tandy also received votes.
"I think he's probably the most talented young man that I've ever coached," Boyle County Coach Larry French said of Dawson. "He's one of those young men, they don't come around very often but when they do, you want to take the time and watch them develop and watch them play. It's an enjoyable experience."
Well, to everyone except Boyle County's opponents.
Dawson finished with 158 tackles and four interceptions on defense while becoming a legitimate threat on offense. He rushed for 686 yards and 15 touchdowns and caught 19 passes for 270 yards and a score while alternating between running back and tight end.
"He's a very intelligent young man, he grasps it," French said. "He's a quick learner and he wants to learn. He's got a burning desire to be the best that he could possibly be."
That goes for the classroom, too, where Dawson has a 3.7 GPA.
"He could have gone the wrong way but he chose to go the right way," French said.
Dawson usually does, particularly on the football field. A nagging turf toe injury got Dawson's season off to a slow start, but as the temperature dropped, his level of play rose.
He was at his best in the playoffs, helping Boyle County to its second straight state championship. He had 6.5 tackles, a rushing touchdown and a 20-yard reception in the Rebels' 21-14 win over Allen County-Scottsville in the title game.
"The No. 1 thing about him is from sideline to sideline you've got to worry about him," said Allen County-Scottsville Coach Brad Hood, who was named AP Coach of the Year. "He covers 53 yards of football field very well."
The humble Dawson tries to shrug off such high praise, insisting his only goal all season was to end his career with a championship. Ask him to evaluate his season and he mumbles, "I thought I did pretty good."
Particularly on offense. French knew the Rebels needed to boost their offensive production this season if they wanted to continue their dominant run through Class 4A, so he asked Dawson to take on a larger role, and not just with the ball in his hands.
While Dawson was dangerous with the ball in his hands, he was just as effective when lined up at tight end. The Rebels ran behind him constantly, as he used his power to help open up gaping holes for teammates like Chris Cook.
It wasn't always easy work, but Dawson embraced the challenge even though he knows his football future lies at linebacker.
"He was willing to do whatever we asked him to do," French said. "He was able to adjust to that real quickly."
What's next for Dawson remains a mystery. He is in no hurry to make a decision on where to play in college.
Kentucky, Louisville, Tennessee are among those hoping to land him. He most likely won't make his choice public until national signing day.
"I'm going to take my time and hopefully make the right (decision)," he said.