Derek Shivley made his statement early in the high school football season. In the first game to be exact. The senior fullback/linebacker for Delphos Jefferson ran 28 yards for a
touchdown and returned an interception 45 yards for a score as the
Wildcats blasted Lima Perry 74-6 in their season opener. Shivley doesn’t try to hog the spotlight, though. It’s not his style.
DELPHOS – Derek Shivley made his statement early in the high school football season. In the first game to be exact.
The senior fullback/linebacker for Delphos Jefferson ran 28 yards for a touchdown and returned an interception 45 yards for a score as the Wildcats blasted Lima Perry 74-6 in their season opener.
He doesn’t try to hog the spotlight, though. It’s not his style. All he wants to do is help his team make the 2008 campaign as memorable as ever.
“That first win was a nice confidence booster for us,” Shivley said after practice on a muggy August afternoon, just two days before Jefferson improved to 2-0 on the year with a 31-7 win over Paulding in its Northwest Conference opener. “We wanted to start off our season strong and so we prepared ourselves in the offseason so that we would be ready to go.”
All of the hard work Shivley and his teammates have put forth so far stems from the disappointment of the past.
The disappointment of going 0-10 in 2005 and the disappointment of having the door to the playoffs slammed shut last year after a 17-14 setback to Spencerville in the season finale.
“It was the worst loss we ever experienced,” said Shivley, who rushed for 468 yards and 3 TDs as a junior while racking up 74 tackles as well, including 51 solo stops. “We are determined to make up for it this year.”
As Shivley talks after practice he is asked to go back in time. Back to 2005 when, as a freshman, he was on a Jefferson team that couldn’t buy a win.
“Going 0-10 was the worst feeling ever,” Shivley said. “We had been good all the way up until our freshmen year. It was tough to deal with but it made my classmates and I work even harder. We pushed each other and we continue to push each other now.”
This Jefferson team is loaded with experience. Nineteen starters and letter winners are back for the Wildcats, who fully expect to contend for a Northwest Conference championship.
“It’s a major asset for us,” Jefferson head coach Damon Ulm said back in the preseason. “We are far ahead of where we were a year ago and that experience should pay off.”
Shively is one of those players with a great deal of experience and he is quick to note the improvements he has made to his game during his prep career.
“My knowledge of the game has really improved and I’ve gotten a lot stronger,” Shivley said. “I know what to expect when I’m on the field and I always give 100 percent every time I play.”
Jefferson still has eight games left, with the next test coming on Sept. 5 in a road game against Bluffton. It marks the next step in its quest to win an NWC title. A year ago, the Wildcats finished 5-3 in the conference and 7-3 overall.
Making the playoffs, however, is the ultimate goal.
“We have to be in the playoffs,” Shivley said. “This team has high expectations and we plan on living up to those expectations. We want to make this season count, especially since it’s my last.”