Terrell County’s Dekoven Ware does it all for the Greenwave — he’s a defensive end, tight end, running back and even kicks. But he’s the biggest force on defense, where he led Terrell County in sacks his sophomore and junior seasons and already has seven sacks this year along with 35 tackles. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
DAWSON -- There's a metal pin, about four inches long, that runs the length of the middle finger on Dekoven Ware's right hand.
So every time Ware bumps that finger, a pain singes his hand and flashes through his whole body.
Getting to know Dekoven Ware: The Dynamite 'Half-Dozen' Q and A
New this year, a half-dozen questions for our Dynamite Dozen players about their likes off the football field:
Q: What's your favorite food?
A: "My mom's special-made spaghetti. The sauce is what makes it special.''
Q: Favorite movie?
A: "Love and Basketball, because I can picture myself being in that movie.''
Q: Who is your favorite entertainer (movie star, comedian, singer etc)?
A: "Dave Chappelle."
Q: Who is your favorite NFL player?
A: "DeMarcus Ware, because he has my last name and he plays defense."
Q: If you were stranded on an island, who would you want to be with you?
Q: Who is the person you owe everything to?
A: "My mom. She raised me to be a man and take leadership.''
That happens about 100 times every Friday night.
"I can't worry about the pain,'' said Ware, a Herald Dynamite Dozen selection who plays three different positions for Terrell County. "Yeah, there's pain, a lot of pain. Other young athletes might be sitting out, but I'm playing through it and trying to help my team win.
"I'm not a quitter. I play every down like it's my last down. That's why I got the pin in there, so I could keep playing. I can't be a quitter. Whatever happens to the finger, happens, and I'll deal with it after the game. When I'm on the field, I just forget about the pain.''
They won't forget about Ware when he graduates this spring from Terrell County. He's been a force on the football field for four years, and last winter he helped lead the Greenwave basketball team to the Class A state title game, averaging a double-double for the season, despite being just 6-feet tall at the post, outrebounding bigger and taller players all season. He is also a star third baseman for the Greenwave's baseball team.
"He's a competitor,'' said Terrell County football coach William Huff, who starts Ware at defensive end, at tight end and even uses him at receiver and running back at times.
Ware also kicks extra points.
"He's playing with a lot of pain in that finger,'' Huff added. "He's always been tough. He lives for the game, lives for the competition. He's a tough kid.''
Ware has to wrap the finger before every game, and during games he needs to have it wrapped and re-wrapped.
"He doesn't want to come out of the game,'' said defensive coach Jack Harris, who has seen Ware play all four years for the Greenwave. "We have to re-tape it numerous times during the game.''
Ware injured his finger during the Lee County game when he made a tackle and hit the turf, jamming it into the ground. Ware said he didn't even know it was injured until halftime.
"I didn't know until I took my glove off at halftime. My middle finger was just hanging down by itself away from my other fingers,'' he said.
Ware had surgery the following Wednesday on Sept. 14, and pleaded with his coaches to allow him to play against Spencer the next night. They said no way, but Ware was back the next week to play in a huge Region 1-A against Miller County.
"He came back after surgery and played against Miller County and had his best game this year,'' Harris said. "He made several tackles behind the line of scrimmage, broke up several passes and even caught a touchdown pass. He played up and down the line of scrimmage all night. He's a tough kid, and a heck of a competitor. He wants to compete.''
That's Ware, a wrecking ball of a defensive end.
"He's big and he's so explosive off the ball,'' Huff said. "During the game the other kids feed off his energy. He plays hard and the young kids see him make so many plays, and they feed off him.''
They admit it.
"He's always crunk, so you can't help but be crunk,'' said Jevantae Daniels, a senior who plays receiver and defensive back. "And whenever anybody doubts we can win the game, there he goes and makes a big play. He makes so many big plays. You can't really pick one out, they're all great plays. They're all special.''
"Yeah,'' added Basheer Rogers, a senior running back. "He's something real special -- and you can put that in bold letters.''
Rogers has seen it for years.
"I've been playing with him since we were little, and he's always been the one -- in football, basketball and baseball. He's been the one. On the football field he is a leader, like Ray Lewis. He just plays so hard all the time. It makes you want to play hard. He's got heart.''
Ware is unrelenting, even in practice.
"In practice, you can't help but get better because of him,'' Daniels said. "He goes hard in practice, and he will let you know if you messed up, and he will try to help you correct your mistakes.''
Ware led Terrell County in sacks his sophomore and junior years, and even with a pin in his finger, he has seven sacks this season.
Ware had 56 tackles and nine sacks last year, and has 35 tackles, including 14 for loss in seven games this season. And that's with a hand that's so taped up at times that Huff simply said: "He's playing with a club on that hand.''
The club limits Ware and Terrell County.
"He's got the best hands on the team,'' Huff said. "He's made six catches after the surgery. He's got such great quickness and explosiveness. With his size and athleticism, we have to put him wherever we can.''
Huff said he wasn't surprised last year when Ware stepped up and became the team's kicker, and he's not surprised that Ware is playing through the pain this season.
But that's just Ware.
Everyone knows Ware would be having a monster season if he were at 100 percent.
"I've got 27 years in as a coach, and I'll tell you that without that pin he's as good as any (high school) defensive player you will find at any level,'' Harris said. "A lot of kids wouldn't be out there. But he cares. He wants to win.
"Last year he was unbelievable. He made three interceptions as a defensive end. He's something.''
Ware was vital to Terrell County's run to the basketball state title game, but he admits football is his favorite sport.
Being a star athlete runs in the family.
His older brother, Eric Barnett, played football at Central Florida, and his sister Tanae Davis-Cain was a basketball star at Florida State after leading Terrell County to the Class A girls state title in 2005. His mother, Annette Ware, is an assistant girls basketball coach at Terrell County. Ware says he gets his drive and desire to succeed from his mother.
Ware has excelled at every sport, and is about as versatile on the football field as anyone in Southwest Georgia. He may be the only defensive end in Georgia who kicks extra points -- but he loves the game for the contact.
When he found out he had to have surgery, it stunned him.
"The injury took my joy away,'' he said. "Because it stops me from doing a lot of things I can do. I've been frustrated so many times since.
"When they told me I had to have surgery, I was shocked, and scared. I had never had surgery before, but my mom told me not to worry and that they were just going to put me to sleep. I just wanted to get back on the field. I wanted to play the next night.''
He's been playing since he was 6 years old, a year too young for the rec league.
"I was 6, and I couldn't play in the rec league because they were 7- and 8-year-olds, but I was as big as they were,'' Ware said. "My mom talked the coach into it, and he let me play. She told him that I was a short, fat, chubby kid who could play on the offensive line.
"She told him she wanted me out of her house,'' he added with a laugh.
Ware, who is chiseled at 6-feet and 220 pounds, now laughs at the days when he was chubby.
"That's when I got my nickname,'' Ware said. "They still call me 'Chonky.' I was short and chubby. By the time I got to middle school I was growing and taller than everybody else. I started playing running back and tight end. Then in ninth grade, I started playing defensive end. I love playing defense. I can take my anger out on people.''
He believes playing football has helped him on the basketball court.
"I think because football is so physical it makes me stronger for basketball season, and helps me against bigger players when they try to push me around.''
He gets the pin taken out next week, and hopes his hand will be 100 percent by the time basketball season gets here.
"It's my shooting hand,'' Ware said.
But his future is in football. A handful of schools have shown interest in Ware, including Georgia Southern.
"He's a special player,'' Harris said. "He's just got that motor people talk about. He's got that extra gear, that instinct and the football savvy.
"When he goes to the next level he could play linebacker or safety. He's a good cover guy. He's such a good athlete, he can play just about anywhere. If Dekoven puts his mind to it, the sky is the limit.''