When Dillon takes the field at Charlie W. Johnson Stadium to face Fairfield Central today at 5:30 p.m. in the Class 2A Division I state championship game, the Wildcats will be decked out in their familiar black and gold uniforms.
But don’t be surprised to see a lot of Blue in the mix.
It could well be a Blue Family celebration with two sets of Blue brothers playing key roles for Jackie Hayes’ latest title game qualifier.
“It’s not uncommon in Dillon to have a number of family members playing football at the same time, but I have to admit this is unusual even for us,” said Hayes, who has guided the Wildcats to the finals for the seventh time in his 21 seasons as coach at his alma mater.
In the spotlight are Joe and Hishawn Blue and cousins Anthony and Shy’keem Blue. Joe and Hishawn are following in the footsteps of older brothers Anqawn and Antwain Blue, who were critical performers on Dillon’s back-to-back title teams in 2008 and 2009.
“The Blue family has been on our radar for quite some time, so we knew we had some special players coming our way for a number of years,” Hayes said. “But more than that, they are quiet, respectful kids who work hard and are total team players.”
Anthony and Joe Blue share time at tailback in Dillon’s one-back spread scheme. The Wildcats are not adverse to the passing game, but the run has always been the bread-and-butter aspect of the attack. The Blue cousins share the wealth without complaint or jealousy.
Anthony Blue gets most of the calls and enters the finale with 1,568 rushing yards, 26 touchdowns and 156 points after ascending to the starting job in place of injured Jabo Lee — a four-year starter. He has 13 receptions for 193 yards. Joe Blue, who is a regular on defense at outside linebacker, has 550 yards and 18 touchdowns on 81 carries — mostly inside the red zone.
“If Joe was the full-time tailback, he might be a 2,000-yard guy but he accepts his role,” said Hayes.
Conversely, Anthony Blue’s defensive time is limited because he is the go-to man on offense.
On defense, the Blues fill three of the four linebacker spots.
Hishawn Blue is second on the team in tackles behind Damu Ford with 78 tackles. He also has two interceptions. Joe and Shy’keem Blue handle the flanks. Joe, one of the top junior prospects in the state, is credited with 48 tackles, six pass break-ups and one blocked punt, while Shy’keem has 43 tackles and pick off one pass that he returned 54 yards for a touchdown.
With Hishawn Blue the only senior in the bunch, Dillon foes can look forward to another year of being “tangled up is blue.”