For The Independent
OLIVE HILL —
It only seems like Dallen Dean, Tyler McGlone and Ryan Conley have been West Carter football players shortly after they started walking.
The Olive Hill trio are seniors now, and they've seen the Comets at their best (a
7-4 record and playoff berth in 2010) and worst — the current 13-game losing streak.
Those last six words have been a major discussion topic since last October.
“We talk about it a lot, actually,” Conley said. “We don't want that happening again. We're working for the win.”
West Carter coach Kevin Brown first saw Dean, McGlone and Conley play in Carter County's Junior Football League (JFL) and later in middle school. This is where he lapses into loquaciousness because he thinks so much of them.
“Tyler and Dallen and Ryan, they've started an awful lot of football games for us going into their senior year,” Brown said. “They know what to expect, they know what it takes.
“... We knew (Dean) was going to be a utility-type guy who can can do a number of things. First of all, he's coachable; that's a big part of it. With (Conley), same thing, and with (McGlone), same thing ... They've not only played a lot of football, they've been around a lot of football. Hopefully that's going to translate into leading us to some victories.”
Brown — and just about everybody else — know McGlone as “Tank.”
“I was thinking, he runs the ball like a bowling ball,” Brown said. “He's going through there, people are bouncing off of him. Same thing defensively; he's got a good nose for the ball, he goes and gets it.”
McGlone's 82 tackles led the team last year. He doesn't mind the nickname, and he calls tackling “an adrenaline rush.”
“I haven't grown much from JFL, so I could just run everybody over,” McGlone said.
Conley is a guard on offense and a linebacker on defense. He's been a football player the longest — he started as a second-grader at Upper Tygart Elementary School outside Olive Hill. He says he wasn't an angry child who needed at outlet, but ...
“You can hit somebody and not get in trouble for it, take out your anger on someone else,” Conley said. “Football, mainly, for me is just something fun.”
Unless you're an opposing ball carrier. Conley's 69 tackles last year was second on the team. Ryan is the third Conley brother to wear West's maroon and royal blue (Denny and Nathan are the other two). Brown has a lot to say about him.
“Just watching (Ryan) develop into the young man he's become, it's been a real pleasure,” Brown said. “He stands out with his toughness. I've seen him take some pretty brutal shots over the years, but he always gets back up and lines it up again.”
The way Conley describes a tackle almost makes you cringe over your breakfast cereal.
“It feels incredible,” he said. “You see that guy with the ball and you just wrap him up, body slam him down. It feels like nothing else can happen in the world.”
Dean is a wide receiver and a cornerback. He was a quarterback and running back in middle school, but he greatly prefers defense.
“You get a lot more action on defense,” he said.
Dean the cornerback reads the guard on his side of the field because that's where the ball usually goes wherever the lineman is. He also looks at a receiver's stomach and gives just one step leeway at the snap.
“Every now and again, if I get used to him and I know I'm faster than him, I will bump him coming off the line,” Dean said, “but if he's faster than me, I don't.”
Besides snapping the losing string, McGlone, Conley and Dean want to snatch The Barrel from rival East Carter Oct. 4 in Grayson, but regardless of what happens, they'll treasure what they've done.
“We're three best friends, actually,” Conley said. “Football's what brought us together.”