Some players can do a little bit of everything.
Dalton Meade was that guy for Shelby Valley last season.
Meade had a monster season on both offense and defense.
He made the biggest impact on defense last season at safety.
Meade is an athletic player who possesses speed and power.
Meade led the Wildcats with a team-high 129 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, a team high three interceptions and a forced fumble.
“On defense, we try to build it around all 11 guys getting to the ball,” Meade said. “I’m just one of them.”
Shelby Valley coach Anthony Hampton is defensive minded and Meade fits perfectly into the system.
“Playing for coach (Anthony) Hampton, you have to be aggressive and physical 24/7,” Meade said. “It’s fun, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Meade was a part of a one-two punch in Shelby Valley’s backfield along with Seth Johnson. Johnson had back-to-back 2,000 yard seasons. Johnson graduated last season and will leave a big void in the Wildcat backfield.
“I’m trying to step up,” Meade said. “I have to try and fill some big shoes. Seth (Johnson) was a good running back. However that falls in, it is what it is.”
The Wildcats returned their entire offensive line, though.
“The loss of skill kids is definitely a hinderence to what we’re trying to do,” Meade said. “The offensive line up front, we returned all five guys, so that’s going to be a big help overall. I’m really happy about that.”
Meade rushed for 812 yards and 13 touchdowns last season on 110 carries. He also caught 11 catches for 239 yards and four TDs.
Meade will have a new role in the Wildcat backfield this season.
“(Meade’s versatility) definitely opens things up overall for everybody, not just myself,” Meade said. “We’re trying to get the ball to everybody.”
Shelby Valley competes in Class 2A District 8.
The Wildcats won the district last season.
After the KHSAA re-alignment, the district will look a bit different this season. The Wildcats will be in a six-team district with Prestonsburg, East Ridge, Martin County, Bath County and West Carter.
“It’s definitely going to be a change with the new teams in there,” Meade said. “It’s still the same goal as every other year, we’re just striving to get that district championship and then go from there.”
The Wildcats want to win another district championship and make some noise in the Class 2A playoffs.
“We’re just going to take it one step at a time,” Meade said. “District championship first, region championship and then whatever happens after that.”
Shelby Valley is scheduled to scrimmage Pikeville next Friday night.
The Wildcats will kickoff the season Friday, August 23 at home against Letcher Central.
Shelby Valley 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.