Nov. 24—Isaac Blue was a very good player who wanted to be a great player for the Daviess County High School football team during his senior season — and, thanks to a full-on commitment to the weight room and gymnasium, he became just that.
Blue helped Daviess County win six of 10 regular-season games, far and away paced the team in total tackles (130) and tackles for loss (11), recovered three fumbles and emerged as a team leader.
The combination of hard work and highly-efficient play led to Blue being selected as the 2022 Messenger-Inquirer Area Defensive Player of the Year.
Blue, a four-year starter for DC, went to work in the offseason and chiseled himself into a more formidable force. Through his workout program and altered eating habits, the 6-foot-3 Blue dropped upwards of 40 pounds and played this fall at a streamlined 220.
"I slimmed down this past year, and it's really opened up my athleticism on the field of play," said Blue, a linebacker on defense and a right tackle on offense. "I really gained a love and appreciation of the gym, put in two or three hours of work a day, and the pounds started coming off.
"I feel much faster, much quicker, and the weight loss has allowed me to be more versatile on both sides of the line."
Panthers head coach Matt Brannon, among others, noticed
"Isaac is the most versatile athlete I've ever coached," Brannon said. "He can play almost any position in the front end of our defense. He's strong enough to be an offensive lineman, but has transformed himself into a tremendous athlete — he could play tight end or running back if we needed him to."
"He is the strongest player on our team, and he leads by the way he plays on Fridays — Isaac is the complete package."
So, in essence, Blue went from first-rate defensive lineman to top-of-the-rung linebacker.
"His explosion from a stance and hands were elite and made him an excellent defensive lineman," Brannon said. "At linebacker, though, not only was he physical, he was athletic enough to cover just about any type of receiver he faced."
"He is the strongest player on our team, and he leads by the way he plays on Fridays. He has a great attitude, and he will be missed after this season, on the field and in the locker room as well."
Blue said being prepared has been essential to his success.
"I watch a lot of film of the opposing offense throughout the week," Blue said. "I study their formations, their tendencies, get an idea of what they like to do in certain situations — some of the biggest plays made are the ones where you were anticipating the correct way, and that comes from film study."
"On offense, losing the weight has helped me be quicker on pulls and faster at getting to the next level downfield."
In 2021, Blue registered 47 total tackles, including five tackles for loss and two sacks, to help Daviess County go 11-2 and reach the third round of the playoffs before falling to eventual state champion St. Xavier.
"I think a big culture shift in the program started last year," Blue said. "You could tell right from the beginning that everybody got along well, that players were unselfish, playing for the team instead of themselves, and that created a great chemistry. I think this season we continued to carry that on."
Through it all, the ever-steady Blue has remained humble.
"You know individually, to start with I'm extremely happy and thankful that I was able to be injury free this season and, really, my whole career," he said. "I've never taken that for granted, and I'm grateful I've been able to stay on the field.
"Also, I wouldn't have been nearly as successful as a player without help from my coaches and my teammates. We're all in this together, as a team, and that's what I love so much about playing football."