by Rusty Ellis
White County came together on Saturday night to celebrate senior football standout and recent Austin Peay signee Malaki Dowell for his accomplishments in Sparta this season.
Dowell finished the season with 3,201 rushing yards and 40 touchdowns, and added another receiving score, leading to him being named the Region 5-5A MVP and a Class 5A Mr. Football finalist.
Along with being named Sparta’s Mr. Football, Dowell was named UCR’s Player of the Year, awarded a $1,000 scholarship and athletic director Terry Crain announced that Dowell’s jersey will be retired this upcoming fall.
For Dowell, Saturday was just the continuation of the support he’s seen from the community over the course of his career.
“It means a lot, you wouldn’t think a whole community would be behind you like this,” Dowell said. “It just means the world to me.”
The news of his jersey retirement was one of the biggest surprises of the night, as Dowell knows it’s not a common occurrence in Sparta for a player to have their jersey retired.
“That feels really good, I don’t know how many people have had their jersey retired at White County,” Dowell said. “It shows how much respect they have for me and how I play the game, and it’s a real honor.”
As far as what he would say to the Sparta community, Dowell wants the White County faithful to understand that there are great days ahead for Warrior football.
“What we’ve all started, hopefully it’s just the beginning,” Dowell said. “Tripp Pinion and others under him coming back, the future is bright in Sparta.”