Dover, Cannon thoroughbreds on HV line

Daniel Dover & Cane Cannon

By Jeff Birchfield
Like the top Kentucky race horses, Happy Valley linemen Daniel Dover and Cane Cannon have great bloodlines when it comes to playing football for the Maroon and White.
Dover is the nephew of Michael Hawkins, who quarterbacked the Warriors to their first-ever playoff appearance in 1977. Cannon is the younger brother of Cody Cannon, the star running back for the Warriors the previous two seasons.
Although each of their relatives played at different positions, they are able to pass down useful information to these two current Warrior players.
"My uncle has helped me out a lot," said Dover, a senior offensive guard and defensive lineman. "What he knows, he has helped out several guys on the team. Back when he played quarterback, you had to know everyone's position.
"He's had 20 to 30 some years to look back and pick up the little things, things you have to explain to someone how it feels rather than why you do it. He's a real good influence on me."
Similarly, the younger Cannon, who doubles as the team's center and a defensive lineman, has been able to learn from his older brother.
"I miss him this year," said Cannon, a junior who wears No. 53. "He really helped me a lot my freshman year and last year. He told me all the things that were going to be rough on me and was a great influence.
"We older players this year have tried to do the same thing, passing on those things to the freshmen. We're all like brothers to each other, so it's important to pass that on to each other."
Through five games this season, the Warriors sport an impressive 4-1 record, which includes a couple of high-profile wins over rivals Unicoi County and Elizabethton. Still, there is some sadness for Dover about having only a few nights left in a HV uniform.
"Honestly, I don't think it's the greatest thing being a senior," said Dover, a powerhouse at 5-10, 237 pounds. "It's your last year here.
"I'm trying to enjoy it the best I can and it's been a cool year so far. We've beat Unicoi the last three years and it was cool beating Elizabethton."
Added Cannon about those early wins: "It's great having that accomplishment. That's one thing we will always remember. I always wanted to beat Elizabethton. Last year we couldn't, but this year we did and I will always remember it.
"It's been a really good season so far. We want to keep the winning feeling going. We don't want to lose any more. It's really a special season this year. We have great offensive and defensive lines and a good quarterback. We really are good everywhere this year."
The whole offensive line has been a terrific bunch for the Warriors this season. Along with these two thoroughbreds, you have other show horses Austin Shell, Josh Smith and Derrick Hamm, all seniors, to go along with towering sophomore Jordy Harrison.
"We've been playing together for a while," explained Dover, the owner of jersey No. 54. "We know each other real well and how we are going to react in different situations. We can really feel each other on the field."
There is a special feeling Cannon earlier alluded to about the 2003 version of the Warriors one can just feel in the air. Both players tried to put their fingers on what it is.
"Last year we had a really good team," said Cannon, who stands 6-0 and weighs 220 pounds. "There isn't that much difference about this year's team other than we have a whole lot more heart. We've spent more time in the summer coming up here weightlifting with each other.
"We came up here running and had some conditioning with coach Campbell. It pays off to come up here in the offseason and it shows."
Both young men expressed a desire to play football collegiately once their prep days are over. However, each is looking at a different field of studies after high school. Cannon would like to become an electrical engineer, while Dover is hoping to get in a pre-medical program. An ankle injury Dover suffered in the Elizabethton game might have served as good training for his future studies and put a good perspective on what this team means to him.
"It helps me understand an athlete's frustration," said Dover. "I was hurt the last game and couldn't perform 100 percent. It really bothered me."
"It also helped me playing with this team. Guys told me how they missed me when I was gone. Knowing how they missed me, it made me feel really good."
Their head coach Stan Ogg feels both have a good chance at meeting the goal of playing at the next level.
"Yes, they can play college ball somewhere," said Ogg. "Daniel's been in the program four years now and Cane has for three years. They both work to make themselves better. They got in the weight room to make themselves stronger, but they're not as strong as they will be the time they leave here. They are fun players to coach."
When asked about what makes the game of football so exciting, Dover offered an insightful response.
"You are able to exert yourself and test your physical limits, doing something with your whole heart," said Dover. "At the same time, you are having 10 other guys doing it with you. That's probably why it's so appealing."