All across West Virginia, thousands of football players hit the practice field Monday, many carrying dreams that fuel their motivation.
To have an unbeaten season. To win a state championship. To be selected to the All-State team.
Trey Dunn will be one of those countless players bearing those lofty goals — with one big difference. He’s already accomplished all of them before his junior season kicks off.
Dunn quarterbacked South Charleston to a 6-0 record last year, a season that ended with the Black Eagles being awarded the Class AAA state title when no other playoff teams were eligible to compete because of high COVID-19 numbers in their respective counties. It was SC’s fifth championship overall, and first since back-to-back crowns in 2008-09 under former coach John Messinger.
Shortly thereafter, Dunn was honored by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association by being chosen as the Class AAA All-State quarterback, making him the lone sophomore on the 30-man first team. He threw for 1,865 yards and 23 touchdowns in just those six games, averaging 359 yards of total offense. He added seven TD runs as he accounted for 30 scores in all.
So with that impressive Triple Crown of sorts already stamped on his resume, where does Dunn go now for motivation? What drives him as South Charleston begins preparation for its title defense with the start of preseason practice?
“The goals I had coming up here in the eighth grade were to be All-State and win a championship,’’ Dunn said, “and those goals are still the same. I still want to do that two more years.’’
Dunn denies that there’s now less of a hunger to succeed.
“Not at all,’’ he said. “It just makes me want to do it more. I want to be able to win it two times in a row, three times in a row.’’
For that to happen, Dunn can still use some more seasoning, said SC coach Donnie Mays, who compares Dunn’s situation with that of Kentre Grier, a past Black Eagles All-State quarterback who also started as a freshman.
“Trey just needs to play more football,’’ Mays said. “He and Kentre compare by their numbers — they’ve played exactly the same amount of games. Kentre came in midway into his freshman season and got 11 games his sophomore year. Vice-versa for Trey. He got 11 his freshman season and six last year.
“So the emphasis has to be getting him a full season. I think his production’s good. I think his reading is getting better. Football is a grind, and a six-game schedule versus a 10-game schedule plus playoffs [is difficult to compare].’’
Dunn, for his part, isn’t satisfied with the status quo. He wants to improve.
“I think I’ve tried to polish up my footwork,’’ he said, “and just become a better overall quarterback with the little stuff.’’
The numbers indicate that Dunn progressed from his freshman season, when he threw for 1,965 yards and 14 touchdowns but was intercepted 12 times and completed 57.6% of his passes. Last year, he was picked off just four times and completed 68% of his attempts. He posted only one 300-yard passing game in 11 starts in 2019, but had three such games out of six last year, with 370 yards in the 57-18 playoff quarterfinal victory against Princeton.
He also avoided negative plays with his legs. After averaging only 2.5 yards per carry as a freshman, that number jumped to 6.6 per carry last season. He ran for 72 yards last year against Huntington, 70 against Princeton and 61 against Riverside. The previous season, his game-high was 56 yards versus Hurricane.
Mays said he has no qualms about the 6-foot, 190-pound Dunn taking off from the pocket and running the football.
“Whatever the defense gives you is what you’re going to try and do,’’ Mays said. “He’s good with his feet, so I’m not going to be scared using him that way. And he’s also got a good arm, so if they give you the pass, we’ll take the pass and if they give you the run, we’ll take the run.
“You’ve got to do what they’re giving you to win ballgames and, at the end of the day, it’s about winning. Everything else just builds up to that. Whatever the defense is going to give you, that’s what you’re going to play with.’’
Dunn is certainly eager to move around the field and take advantage of his quickness and strong arm. He ran on the Black Eagles’ 4x100- and 4x200-meter relay teams in June’s Class AAA state track meet.
“For me, I think the biggest thing I love doing is making plays with my legs outside the pocket,’’ Dunn said, “whether that’s running the ball outside of the pocket or making a play downfield with my arm. Just being able to make a play, and keep the play alive longer.’’