Peyton Blackburn is a force in the trenches for Shelby Valley.
When it comes to clearing a path or opening a hole on offense, there is nobody better in the mountains than Blackburn.
Blackburn is a senior offensive and defensive lineman for the Wildcats.
He’s big, strong, quick and agile.
On offense, he is one of the top offensive linemen in the mountains.
Blackburn has been pancaking and leaving opposing lineman laying on their backs looking up at him as one of the Wildcat running backs run by.
“I’m really excited about the season and I can tell the rest of the team is too,” Blackburn said. “We’ve been working really hard this summer. As soon as the season ended last year, we were hungry to get back at it. We want to get back it because we have a lot of goals that we want to achieve.”
The past two seasons, Seth Johnson has rushed for over 2,000 yards and Dalton Meade has rushed for around 1,000 yards.
Besides Blackburn, the rest of the offensive and defensive line returns for the Wildcats this season.
“It really helps us having a returning offensive and defensive line,” Blackburn said. “My freshman year, I played against returning seniors against Prestonsburg and big team like that, it was always tough because those older guys always came out and set the tone. You felt them up there. I want to do that to people now. I want to show them that we are the best line in the region and nobody do anything with us.”
Johnson graduated this season, but having an experience line will help young guys like Ethan Bentley and Jayden Newsome step into new roles.
“Some of our younger guys who are freshman and sophomores, are stepping in and don’t have any experience from middle school to high school,” Blackburn said. “From middle school to high school, the speed changes so much and they’re going to need a good offensive line to step up and open up holes and do their thing.”
Blackburn has been on college radars since his freshmen season. He sometimes doesn’t get the attention as the skill players, but their success reflects on the job he and the rest of the offensive line is doing.
“As a lineman, you know you’re not the center of attention,” Blackburn said. “But when you have guys like Seth (Johnson) and Dalton (Meade), they always hype you up and tell you are doing a good job and tell you that they couldn’t do it without you. That always helps your confidence and your teammates confidence and then you just block harder for those types of guys.”
The only skill player Shelby Valley returns is Dalton Meade.
“Having someone like Dalton (Meade) who has four years experience under his belt and knows what’s going on and adjusted to this game, it’s tremendous having a guy like that,” Blackburn said. “Having him fly around out there and and not second guessing himself that just brings power to the team.”
Blackburn and the Wildcats have some big goals this season.
“Some of the goals we have are to win the district, then win region and then go to the state and hopefully win it,” Blackburn said.
Look for Blackburn to start clearing the way for a success season for the Wildcats August 23 at 7:30 p.m. at home as Shelby Valley opens the season against Letcher Central.
The Wildcats will follow that by taking on Pike Central at 6:00 p.m. Saturday, August 31 at Hillard Howard Field in the 35th Annual Community Trust Bank/WYMT Pike County Bowl.