FLOWOOD, Miss. — Dawson Pike, the former Wenatchee Panther QB/DB, is playing football right now.
Not in Wenatchee, and not anywhere in the state of Washington. Pike, a junior, is suiting up for the Hartfield Academy Hawks (3-1) after transferring from Wenatchee to the Central Mississippi Christian Academy in August.
He decided to make the transfer after traveling with his mom to Mississippi to visit his aunt and drop off his sister at Mississippi State University, where she is attending. During the trip, his aunt and uncle — who are both involved with the academy — floated the idea of Pike remaining in Mississippi, living with them and transferring to Hartfield. Mississippi is currently holding in-person classes and playing fall sports.
“My mom and I talked about it for a while (but) we both decided that it would be a good idea for me,” Pike said over the phone last week. “I had some personal family stuff come up, my mom’s family is down here, and I have the opportunity to play sports and go to school in-person, which was really big for me.”
After last year's starting quarterback Camden Sirmon announced that he would transfer to a high school in Missoula, Montana, for his senior season, it was anticipated that Pike would assume the starting quarterback role for Wenatchee in the spring season, provided there is one. But that notion was scrubbed — at least for this season. Even if he wanted to, he couldn't transfer back to Wenatchee and play in the spring.
Pike said he’ll reassess after the school year whether he will transfer back to Wenatchee for his senior year.
He left friends. He left a girl. He left his home of 16 years.
But Pike said it was too great an opportunity to pass up.
“It’s been tough; I mean I’ve grown up in Wenatchee my entire life and it was tough to leave, but my friend group was really supportive,” he said. “It felt great to have that behind me. It’s been hard thinking about friends and family but I’m blessed in the fact that I can take visits home, and I’m already planning a few.”
Pike suited up for the first time in the maroon and gold two weeks ago, taking part in a 51-28 beatdown over Park Place Christian Academy. He’s transitioned from defensive back to outside linebacker, where he’s starting for the Hawks.
“It’s been really awesome to play Mississippi football, which is super competitive,” Pike said. “We have a wide receiver that is committed to Mississippi State and has 14 other D-I offers; it’s been a cool experience to play with him, and the coaching staff is great. I loved being in Wenatchee and love my former teammates but everyone here has welcomed me with open arms. I’m just working hard to make the transition as easy as possible and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to play football. It wasn’t a guarantee in Washington.”
In terms of the competition, Pike said there isn’t much of a gap between Mississippi and Washington — football is football anywhere you go. The biggest difference has been the humidity.
“It feels like you’re practicing in a tub of mayonnaise,” Pikes said.
“The fans are also so much more involved,” he said. “Football is serious down here; it’s what they live for. For instance, when I came to my first practice, everyone already knew who I was. Football is just what they talk about down here and having a new guy from Washington, they were all over that. I can’t explain it; they just take football a little more seriously.”
Hartfield dropped its first game of the season last week, falling 37-20 against Leake Academy. Pike made a couple of tackles in the loss. He and the Hawks will look to bounce back Friday night against Simpson Academy.