High school football: Dyer doing it all for Cougars

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 10, 2023

By Mike London

CHINA GROVE — Two decades ago, South Rowan’s football team had an outstanding player named Keith Fuller.

“Full-Tyme” they called Fuller, partly because of his last name, but mostly because he was full-time on the football field. He came at opponents for the full 48 minutes — offense, defense and special teams.

Carson’s Foday Dyer doesn’t have a nickname yet, but he’s on his way to earning one. He’s coming at teams for close to 48 minutes and he’s coming from a lot of different directions.

He wears a lot of hats for the Cougars. He is a starting cornerback and a starting receiver. He kicks off and he returns kicks.

That’s a full plate, for sure, above and beyond the call of duty, but Carson head coach Jonathan Lowe found something else for Dyer to do last Friday.

“Our regular punter got sick on the day of our game with Piedmont and had to go home early,” Lowe said. “I called Foday in at 4 p.m, and told him. ‘Well, you’re the punter.'”

Dyer didn’t blink.

“A surprise, but I was OK with it,” Dyer said. “I’m a little bit iffy as far as punting, but I can do it. I’ll do whatever it takes for us to win. I love to play. I’d be happy with never coming off the field.”

Dyer proved to be a successful punter. He had one punt downed at the Piedmont 5-yard line to change field position.

His capable punting helped keep Piedmont’s offense bottled up. Carson won 21-3 for its first victory of the season, following two tough road losses.

Foday is an uncommon name for an American youngster, but Dyer’s heritage is Liberian. In western Africa, Foday is as common as William, Jonathan or Jason is in China Grove.

There actually are thousands of Fodays on the planet, with 99 percent of them living in Africa.

“I’m actually Foday Jr.,” Dyer explained. “My father is also a Foday.”

The most popular sport in Liberia, by far, is soccer. So Dyer was introduced to soccer early in life. That helps explain his ability to kick and punt footballs.

He still likes soccer, but it’s American-style football that gets his blood pumping and his heart racing. He got a later start on the gridiron than most of his teammates, but he’s making up for lost time.

“I’d play soccer for Carson if it was in the spring, but with both sports being played in the fall, my focus is football,” Dyer said. “I remember my first football game, and it was love at first sight. One game, and I knew I wanted to be a football player. I remember telling my dad I wanted to be a football player.”

Speed is the most important element in football. Dyer has it. He’s a track and field sprinter for Carson.

The senior is now playing his third year of varsity football.

As one of the fastest people in the school, he established himself earlier in his career as a starting cornerback and return man.

This season, Carson is asking a lot more of him. The Cougars graduated their top three receivers from the 2022 team that made the 3A playoffs, so some of the fast guys at the back of Carson’s defense — Trevor Vaughn, Carson Aman and Dyer — are now important pass-receiving options for QB Michael Guiton.

Dyer made his biggest receiving impact so far in the Piedmont game. He had five catches for 55 yards.

“I’ve worked hard on my stamina, so I can play both ways with no problem,” Dyer said. “We noticed Piedmont’s safety was lining up a little to the left and we ran routes to take advantage of it. I was usually running a post. I also caught a few hitches and some got yards thanks to good blocks.”

On defense, Dyer helped a unit that shut out Piedmont in the second half.

As a kick returner, Dyer continues to excel.

“Every time they kick it deep to Foday, I’m thinking that it’s a mistake, that this is the one he takes all the way,” Lowe said. “There isn’t much that he can’t do on a football field, and he came through for us against Piedmont in a very big way.”

Carson was off on Friday, Sept. 8. The Cougars wrapped up their bye week which included the Labor Day holiday, three days of work and a rest day on Friday.

But it will be serious business for the Cougars next week. They’ll be preparing for a visit from a West Rowan team that is 0-3, but will be eager to start 1-0 in South Piedmont Conference play. Everyone knows the history. Carson has been open since 2006 and has only beaten West one time.

“West is talented and they’ve got weapons,” Lowe said. “They’re 0-3, but a lot of teams would be 0-3 against the schedule they played. They took on three good 4A teams.”

Carson came close to beating West last season and will be looking for a breakthrough victory. With the open week, three injured Carson players have had extra time to heal. It’s possible they will be available against the Falcons.

Dyer will be important to the Cougars’ hopes because he is heavily involved in all three phases of the game,

“Getting that first win against Piedmont, that was very big for us,” Dyer said. “But everyone on the team knows we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”