Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
WAVERLY — As soon as Payton Shoemaker stepped foot on Waverly High School’s campus, the term “special” seemed to surround him.
Shoemaker, and an uber-talented roster, led the Tigers to a 9-2 mark and a third consecutive state playoff appearance. The postseason berth was the school’s seventh in history.
Now, as he enters his senior year, the shifty all-district running back will assume an even bigger leadership role. His teammates will be counting on him to be even better than he was a year ago, and with the schedule his Tigers face, they’ll need his elusiveness more than ever.
Before Waverly begins its season on Aug. 30 at Athens, we caught up with Shoemaker to discuss his personal expectations, playing in the Southern Ohio Conference and much more.
Question: You’re entering your second full year as a Tiger. Your first was nothing short of electric. What’s the feeling like at camp this summer and what your expectations of your team?
Shoemaker: We’re all excited to get out there for our first game and we have a lot of guys that can make plays. We’re a little young in a few places but I have complete confidence in everyone. This season, I think we can go undefeated in the regular season and make a run in the playoffs.
Q: Playing in the SOC is tough. You know the teams you play on a weekly basis and you know you can’t take a night off. What’s the key to winning the league and what makes the SOC elite?
PS: I think the key is just focusing on our game and trying to make sure we improve everyday. We need to not take anyone lightly and make sure we do all the little things. The SOC is elite because every year, there’s multiple teams that make the playoffs and make a push for the league title.
Q: What have you worked on the most personally during the offseason to get better?
PS: I’ve really just tried to gain more knowledge of our offense and defense. I’ve wanted to build on last year and try to improve on every aspect.
Q: Waverly’s offense should be high-octane like usual with you in the backfield and Haydn’ Shanks at QB. How much confidence do you have in your QB to lead the team to victory?
PS: I have so much trust in Haydn’. He spends a lot of time watching film and has so much talent. He does a great job leading everyone and I have no doubt that he’ll have another really good year.
Q: If you had to pick one game you’re most excited to play in, what would it be and why?
PS: It’d probably have to be Wheelersburg. It’s a big game for the league and it’ll be my first time playing there. It’s definitely one we’re all looking forward to.
Q: Coach Chris Crabtree has been at this for quite some time now. What’s your favorite thing about playing for him?
PS: Coach Crabtree brings such a strong intensity to the game. He’s always fired up and if you aren’t, he’ll find a way to amp you up. He really makes the game fun.