CEDARVILLE — With a football coach for his father, Dylan Shelton has always had a place on the sidelines for the game.
"I was always a ball boy when I was a kid and I always loved being around the action, seeing everything up close on the sidelines," Shelton said. "Especially the cheerleaders."
Now a 6-foot-2, 175-pound senior quarterback, Shelton has helped guide Cedarville to a 5-0 start, the best ever since the school restarted back in the 1980s. This group of seniors went 0-10 in Shelton’s sophomore year, his dad’s Mark Shelton’s first season at the school. The Pirates improved to 5-6 last year and made the playoffs.
"That’s something people have been talking about," Shelton said. "It’s pretty cool that we have done something no one has done before here, but we are really focused on the end of the year. It has been more fun because most of us that are seniors where playing as sophomore when we didn’t win a game."
Mark Shelton took over the Pirates with a plan and having his son as a centerpiece made it a double-edged sword in some respects.
"I put a lot of pressure on him sometimes, partly because he is my son, but also because he is our quarterback," Mark Shelton said. "I know I wouldn’t want to be my kid. I can be hard to get along with."
The younger Shelton says he knows that the extra pressure is just part of the plan.
"Sometimes my dad well yell at me and I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong," Shelton said. "But I know it’s just because I am kind of in the spotlight and he wants to make a point to the whole team. It’s no big deal."
Both Sheltons agree they have maintained a strong father-son bond off the field as well as coach-quarterback on it.
"Dylan is the hardest worker I’ve ever coach and he’s a great kid," Mark Shelton said. "I don’t think we’ve ever had a serious disagreement. Sometimes at home I will ask him, ‘what do you think about how we run this or that?’ I try to get his input."
"We talk football all the time when we away from school," Dylan Shelton said. "Saturday afternoons are our day to watch college football."
Shelton was 24-of-27 passing for 287 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s 46-19 win against Danville. The Pirates opened 3A-4 play with a 21-20 win at Atkins in overtime when Dylan called an audible to a run on the goal line. Dylan didn’t have big stats in that game as he played with a sore shoulder.
"Dylan didn’t practice that week and couldn’t really throw the ball," coach Shelton said. "I was going to sit him down but my assistant said, ‘No, we’ve got to have him in there just for leadership.’"
Shelton has performed at a high level in the classroom, also, carrying a 4.0 grade point average and is in line for valedictorian. Shelton’s combination of athletic and academic skills have drawn recruiting interest from several Division II schools in the area and some Ivy League schools.
"I will probably major in biology or chemical engineering," Shelton said. "I guess if I didn’t play football I would pretty much just be a nerd."