By John Stepp For The Endzone
Every good coach will tell you that competition breeds success. So, maybe that is why Williamsburg’s Coach Jerry Herron has been so successful the past two seasons. With star wide receivers Skyler Griffith and Corey Shelton competing on the field, the Jackets have been a force to be reckoned with on the offensive side of the ball, making it to the regional finals the past two years.
It’s not just with the opposing teams that Griffith and Shelton compete, but it’s also with each other. With the duo each surpassing 1,000 yards receiving last season, it’s common for them to set friendly wagers before each game.
“We always compete with each other. I always say that I’m going to have more yards and touchdowns and he always says the same thing,” said Shelton. “We know we have to make plays for us to win, so that’s what really matters, but it’s fun.”
Last season, Shelton led the Jackets with 20 touchdowns through the air, compared to Griffith’s 13. But, Griffith hauled in more yards than Shelton – 1,176 to 1,084.
“I always tell him that I get us down the field and I let him get the touchdowns. That’s why I had more yards than him,” said Griffith jokingly. “Corey is a great receiver, though. He makes my job easier.”
That’s what is perfect about the tandem. Defending the Jackets’ offense is a challenge every Friday because of what Griffith and Shelton bring to the field. While each receiver should be double teamed, it’s impossible. When the defense focuses on one of them, the other steps up.
“That helps our offense tremendously. Defenses can’t double us. If they try to double both of them, it just opens up the offense for someone else,” said Herron. “They are just very special football players. They both had over 1,000 yards last season, and if Shelton didn’t have an injury his freshman year, they would have done it then, too.
“Coaches will tell you how rare it is to have two kids on the same team the way we have Skyler and Corey,” he added. “They are very tough to cover. They’re both athletic, and run their routes well, whether it’s curls or deep routes. It’s nice to have two kids with the abilities they have and can do the things with the ball that they do.”
It’s not just on the offensive side of the ball that the duo excels. Both players were voted to the all-state squads as wide receivers and defensive backs. Griffith led the Jackets with six interceptions last season, and Shelton was right behind him with five.
With their outstanding abilities and accolades, it’s a good thing they are on the same team. Each player said they would not want to be on the opposite side, faced against one another.
“If I were playing against Skyler, I don’t know how I’d defend him. I’d just make sure I kept his hands from getting on the ball,” said Shelton. “I’d run with him and hope to keep the ball from getting to him. It’d be tough, though.”
Griffith was a little more confident, citing his supposed advantage in strength, which Shelton disagreed with.
“I’d just be physical with him. I think I’m a little stronger than he is, so I’d try to push him off his route,” joked Griffith. “Seriously, he’s a really good receiver.”
Going back to their competitive nature, neither player would concede on who the fastest of two are.
“If you ask us both, we’re going to say we’re each the fastest,” said Shelton. “But I’m definitely faster than him.”
Griffith, of course, disagreed.
“I think I got him there, too,” said Griffith.
Herron is not worried about which of the two is the strongest or fastest. When it comes to his star receivers he’s just glad they’re on his team – not just because of their on-the-field accomplishments, but for the way they carry themselves and represent the Williamsburg football program.
“First off, they are both really good kids. They do everything we ask them to do. They’re good leaders and both have good character,” said Herron. “They are not selfish whatsoever. They both are willing to do whatever is best for the team. They work hard and always stay positive. They’re all for the team.”
Being all for the team is what Griffith and Shelton pride themselves on. But, there is a small disagreement between the two when their senior year rolls around. With the departure of three-year starting quarterback Dalton Sizemore, the juniors are both putting a bug in Herron’s ear about taking over as quarterback of the Jackets.
“They’ve both been politicking about being our quarterback next year,” said Herron jokingly. “We’ll have to wait and see.”
Griffith seemed to think he was the leading candidate.
“I got the middle school experience, so I think I can do it. He’d definitely be my top receiver, but I don’t think I could give him the ball too much. I have to tuck it and run some, too,” joked Griffith. “But really, if he wants to play quarterback, I’d let him do that — whatever helps the team.”