NAUGATUCK – There is an old joke in the sports world when talking about an all-around good athlete. That he is so good he does everything but sell popcorn at halftime.
That might be a good way to describe Tug Valley’s 2-sports all-state performer Jeremy Dillon.
Dillon, who just finished his sophomore season, has been an all-state selection in the Mountain State in both football and basketball. He was a first team member in football the past two seasons, helping lead the Panthers to the playoffs.
This week he was named to the first team by the W.Va. Sports Writers Association in basketball. That is an improvement from last year when he was on the third team.
Does he have a favorite sport?
Dillon says, “It depends on what season it is.”
In late summer and through the fall, it is all about football. Once the playoffs are over, he hits the gymnasium and plays hoops until football practice begins in August.
In the quarter finals of the state tournament against Tucker County, Dillon had a very balanced game for Tug Valley with 21 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks, four steals and four assists.
That is a typical performance on the hardwood by Dillon.
But move to the grid iron and it’s common to see Dillon score a couple of touchdowns, have an interception, fumble recovery and lead the team in tackles.
His football stats were incredible as a freshman.
He plays quarterback, wide receiver, running back, linebacker and defensive end – whatever the team needs. But Dillon prefers calling the signals and running the show in both sports. He plays point guard for the Panthers’ basketball squad, but can also go down in the low post and guard the center for the other team.
“I like to control the game,” Dillon said. “I like the ball in my hands.”
Whether it is rolling out to throw a pass as quarterback, or sitting up a pick and roll on the basketball court at the top of the key, Dillon likes to influence the game in both sports.
At 6-foot-4, 185 pounds, Dillon is starting to raise the eyebrows of Division One coaches in both sports.
Dillon is planning a visit to Virginia Tech for football and has gotten strong interest from Marshall for basketball. Once the word gets out of Dillon’s exploits in both sports and the interest he has from certain D-1 programs, watch for the offers to start pouring in after that.
In the next couple of years there will be college coaches heading to the football field and small gymnasium at Tug Valley High School, which is nestled in the narrow hollow at Naugatuck in Mingo County.
Panther fans need not worry that Dillon will be taking his talents elsewhere. There were rumors that his family might move or that Dillon might transfer, but he said he would be staying at Tug Valley High School.
Dillon has no idea what his 40-yard dash time is, but opponents know he has breakaway speed. Those playing defense against him on the hardwood know he can take the ball to the basket, or stop and pop a jump shot, taking advantage of his height and leaping ability.
Dillon’s ability is natural, although he does do some weight training. Most of his time is spent on the hardwood. He has and will continue to play on the AAU circuit in the spring and summer months.
At the same time, Dillon realizes he has room to improve. “I need to work on my pull-up jumper and my range,” he says.
What goals does Dillon have?
“I most definitely want a ring and I want to play Division One football or basketball,” the modest sophomore says.
As a freshman, Tug Valley lost in the first round at the state tourney in basketball. This past week they lost to Wheeling Central, led by WVU recruit Chase Harler, in the semi-finals.
He helped lead TVHS to the semi-finals of the Class A playoffs in football. They also went to the quarterfinals this past fall.
Dillon has two more seasons left for the Panthers and hopes he can help bring a couple of more state championship trophies back to Naugatuck.
Tug Valley returns several players, including four more sophomores that started or played a lot of minutes this past season.
So don’t be surprised if Dillon leads his school and teammates back to the state tourney in Charleston the next two seasons and they win another state championship for Tug Valley.
(Kyle Lovern is the Managing Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.)