Defending our Selections: The Sophomore All-State Athletes, the Jimmies and the Joes…

There is a saying that has been around football for years the exact origins of which KPGFootball can’t pinpoint, at least not exactly. KPGFootball knows Coach Phillip Fulmer, formerly the HC at the University of Tennessee, used to say it commonly, but we don’t think it originated with him. It really sounds like something Bum Phillips would have coined but can’t say that for sure. The saying is the following…It ain’t the X’s and the O’s, but it’s the Jimmies and the Joes. The saying is, universally in the football world, understood for the proposition a coach has to have athletes to win football games. To be an athlete you have to both excel at your primary position while still being athletic enough to fulfill a variety of rolls for your football team. These are the players who are versatile and able to take over a football game from a variety of different positions on multiple sides of the ball. These are the players whom are capable of being utilized in a variety of ways, whether it be offensively, defensively, or even on special teams. We now unveil for you the selections committee’s Jimmies and Joes. These are the Sophomore All-State Football Athletes.

Triston Cox, image taken from his Hudl page

Tristan Cox, RB/MLB, 6-3, 228 pounds, Pulaski County…

Well, KPGFootball would suppose the first criteria for being an Athlete, as that term is used by our selection committees for purposes of putting these players on one of our All-State Football teams, is the requisite that they be, well,…uh,…athletic! How does a nearly 230 pounder, running the 40 yard dash in 4.81, and running a fully automated 11.5, 100 meter dash sound? Pretty Athletic? We think so. Cox also runs the pro-agility shuttle (5-10-5) in 4.22 seconds and has a vertical leap of 28 inches.

On the football field, Cox helped his Class 5A football team go 11-3, losing in the Semi-state to State-finalist, Covington Catholic. Cox, on offense ran the football 181 times for 859 yards with 19 rushing TDs. Out of the backfield, as a receiver, Tristan caught 44 passes for 285 yards with 2 TD receptions. At MLB, Cox collected 106 tackles, total; 49 of which were solos, had 4 TFLs, forced a fumble, and recovered 2 fumbles. That is going to be a recurring theme as we feature these Athletes, so you might well get used it. The players whom make one of our All-State teams, as an Athlete, are so skilled, and so versatile, they could have made the team at any of their deployments, offensively, special teams, or defensively. Our All-State Athletes are All-Staters wherever the team asked the player to perform during the preceding season. Triston Cox certainly fills that bill.

Jerimiah Belton, C/RB, 5-10, 155 pounds, LaRue County…

Belton is a player, like Cox and Grundy, of whom we hadn’t heard until convening a selection committee for the purposes of selecting this All-State Football team. He is another shining example of the bountiful number of skilled football players existing around the commonwealth of Kentucky for those whom might wish to comb Kentucky diligently searching for football talent. Belton helped lead his team to the Semis before being taken out by State Champion, Central (Louisville). Jeremiah reminds us, somewhat, of Isaac Dixon from Belfry in that he has a number of places where he can contribute to a team. Wherever he is deployed, he does it better than any other available option.

Belton, offensively, carried the football 168 times this past season, gaining 1,301 yards with 10 rushing TDs. Defensively, at cornerback, Belton had 25 solo tackles, one for a loss, while intercepting 2 passes, and successfully defending a whole bunch. Belton is a dynamic athlete who will only see both his deployments and production increase over the course of his final two years of high school football. Jerimiah Belton is a Saturday player, for whom college football appears, to us, to definitely be in the cards should he wish.

Dominic Francis, RB/C, 5-11, 190 pounds, Phelps High…

It opened some eyes when Dominic Francis, whom had formerly played at Belfry High, transferred into tiny Phelps High School to play football for the Hornets and Coach David Jones. Francis is a player we got to see up-close at our KPGFootball, Summer, All-State Football combine at Pikeville High School and, frankly, an athlete like him is kind of hard to miss.

In the words of an area coach, up in Pike County, we consulted on this particular player, Francis is legit, he’s the real deal. At Phelps, which has experienced an unprecedented run of success under the stewardship of Coach David Jones, who won back-to-back District Coach of the Year awards there, Francis was too valuable a commodity to not feed the football at every possible and conceivable opportunity. Owing to his value he had to play on defense for the Hornets too. Dominic didn’t disappoint whether playing on offense or defense.

Francis gained over 700 yards rushing while scoring 12 rushing TDs at running-back. As a corner, Francis had 101 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 5 Passes defended, and 2 interceptions. For a guy who can play corner, recruiters have to love the nearly 6 foot tall frame and the 190 pounds of steely grit and muscle. Francis will probably end up a strong-safety or even a 4-3 OLB in college. Regardless, he will end up playing football in college, on a college’s dime, should he be determined to do so.

Isaac Dixon-Photo: Jarrid McCormick/Williamson Daily News

Isaac Dixon, RB/KR/PR/C, 5-10, 170 pounds, Belfry High School…

This is another guy who attended our KPGFootball, All-State, Mountain Combine and what an impression he made. This kid may be the very best athlete in the 2021 Class in all of Kentucky. Again, if we had an award for the Sophomore Player of the Year in Kentucky High School Football (which we just might incorporate in the near future), Isaac Dixon would be strongly considered for it, that’s for sure. If we were picking a football game to play in some mythical gym class, and high school coaches participating could pick from among any sophomore player in Kentucky, an unbelievable amount of coaches would make Dixon their first pick. He is just that valuable on a football field.

At our combine, Dixon, measuring at 5-10 and weighing 170 pounds, ran the 40 yard dash in a blistering, hand-timed, 4.45 seconds. He finished the pro-agility shuttle (5-10-5) in 4.23 seconds and completed the L-Cone drill, during which he fell fully to the ground on both attempts, in 6.7 seconds, for the second fastest at the entire combine. As for strength, Isaac, though only having just finished his freshman year in high school at the time of our combine, and only weighing 170 pounds, still managed to rep the high school bench press rep-weight of 185 pounds, 7 times. That computes to an approximate, one-rep, bench press maximum lift of 229 pounds. 

Dixon dominated both the one-on-ones and seven-on-seven portions of the combine whether he was defending or in the pattern which led to his being named the Combine’s Most Outstanding Player. He also took Top Corner honors. In our opinion, the only thing stopping Isaac Dixon from having multiple offers, right now, is the remoteness of where he plays high school football and his being a Class of 2021 prospect. He is dynamic, explosive, powerful, fast, quick, and, from what we saw in the Mountains, someone with a ton of dog in him.

This past year Dixon’s Dog got out of the Dog-house and tore up the neighborhood! Isaac had 100 carries for 1,393 yards with 17 TDs. That isn’t a misprint, he averaged nearly 14 yards every time the ball was seated in his gut. In the passing game, which isn’t undertaken much at Belfry High, Dixon had 6 receptions for 184 yards with 3 TDs receiving. Translation…while the Pirates have barely discovered the forward pass is permitted under KHSAA rules and regulations, he still made the most of limited opportunities in averaging over 30 yards per reception and housing half of the passes he caught. Isaac would have made this team as a running back, a defensive back, and as a special teamer.

On special teams Dixon housed 4 kicks or punts in route to scoring 152 points, all-told, for his Pirate football team. Defensively, Dixon had 33 tackles, with 5 interceptions. His 5 picked were returned for a combined 247 yards with three of the 5 picks being pick-sixes. This guy here was Honorably Mentioned on the Courier-Journals’ All-State team (what a freaking joke). He is much more than Honorably Mentioned here. Can’t say enough about this player.

Kade Grundy, KR/WR, 6-2, 190 pounds, Somerset High…

Ordinarily a guy like Grundy may not make this team. Hell, he only played in 7 games and only part of the time was attributable to his ankle injury he suffered. Why was he absent from the lineup during the remainder? Well, he was auditioning for the Junior Olympic Baseball Team to which he was selected, by the way.

When he found the gridiron, Grundy more than made up for lost time. As a receiver, Grundy caught 28 passes for 406 yards and 5 TDs receiving. On special teams, he housed two kicks on the year in his 7 games of action. Now, we would contend his production, though occurring over an abbreviated season, is still sufficient to warrant inclusion on our Sophomore All-State Football team or he wouldn’t be on it. The committee gave no consideration to what ifs. However, wouldn’t it be fun to wonder what Grundy might well have contributed had he played in all 14 of Somerset’s games?

We are going to take a moment and request the reader’s slight indulgence. Take his seasonal production and double it. Project he would have played during the first half of the year commensurate to how he finished. Had he caught 56 passes for 812 yards receiving with 10 TD receptions, housing 4 kicks, he would have made this team as either a WR or KR, committee’s choice. We would be waxing eloquently about him like we did about Isaac Dixon.

In summation, the committee felt he deserved inclusion on this team with the production he actually accumulated. This is a Division I, college athlete, probably at the FBS, Power 5 level. The sport he is likely to play collegiately is, most likely, baseball; but we believe, should he want to play football in college, there will be plenty of places which would feel fortunate to accommodate him.

Well, these are our Athletes and exactly why we picked each and every one of them. There may be some athletes whom the reader believes to be better than what we have here somewhere in Kentucky. You could be right and there may be players we simply missed. KPGFootball supposes that to be entirely possible (though not too probable). However, KPGFootball is quite sure that, while these may not be the very best Athletes in the 2021 class; they are, definitely, among them. All of these players have distinguished themselves both on the field of play and in the class room. It will be fun to follow these guys as they continue to develop and play football next Fall. You will continue to hear plenty from these players in 2019 and beyond. 

Reporting for KPGFootball, this is Fletcher Long reminding all of the ballers out there that #WeGotUCovered and to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE.

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