It probably wasn't the senior campaign LaPorte defensive back Nick Shuble envisioned.
Although he recorded 84 tackles and an interception, the Slicers struggled on the gridiron and finished with a 2-8 record.
However, there was some satisfaction for the 6-foot, 167-pound Shuble as he was named a member of the 2021 Indianapolis Colts academic all-star football team.
Of the 24 seniors chosen by the Indiana Football Coaches Association for their accomplishments both on the field and in the classroom, 16 were selected as either as a valedictorian or salutatorian of their 2022 graduating class.
"I think it's a great thing to recognize athletes like myself who don't have the most skill or talent, but are able to get the job done in the classroom and on the field by using their mind," said Shuble, who was one of 13 valedictorians. "A lot of times players can make a mental impact just as big as a physical impact. So, being a part of the Colts' academic all-state team is a true honor as I think it represents my hard work in the classroom and the mental gift I have."
Getting an opportunity to close out their high school career on the big stage was Zionsville defensive lineman Owen Readinger, who competed in the Class 5A state championship game against defending champ Indianapolis Cathedral.
Another top-notch performer was Brebeuf Jesuit defensive back and valedictorian Lucky Deignan, who took part in the Class 3A finale against Gibson Southern.
"I am greatly honored to be able to even be considered for the team, but to be selected for it sets my soul aflame,": said Readinger, who had 18 tackles and two fumble recoveries for the Eagles. "It gives me a strong sense of satisfaction knowing that I am seeing my years of work paying off in such great dividends. Most of all, however, I feel thankful for all of those who helped me get here. I have so many to thank from my many coaches who encouraged me to push through hardship to my teachers who always saw the best in me and did their best to maximize my potential and my family members, who, at the end of the day, were always there for me when I needed it the most."
In addition to being chosen as a member of the 2021 Indiana Football Digest's Prime Time 25, Decatur Central standout athlete Javon Tracy is also a top-notch performer in the classroom.
"It is an honor to be named to the Colts' academic all-star team," said Tracy, who was 20-of-53 for 360 yards with five touchdowns, ran 106 times for 1,054 yards with 13 touchdowns, and caught 11 passes for 203 yards with two scores for the Hawks. "From a young age, my family instilled in me the importance of academics. I've always tried to get straight A's in school because I knew that if I didn't get the grades, I wouldn't be able to play at the next level and that motivated me to be a good student."
A couple of guys recognized for laying it all on the line up front were Monroe Central's Caleb Snyder on the offensive side, and Micah Nathan of Valparaiso on defense.
"Many thanks to the Indianapolis Colts and the Indiana Football Coaches Association for this recognition, said the valedictorian Snyder. "What a great honor it is to be recognized as a student athlete."
" It means a lot to me to earn this prestigious honor," Nathan said. "I am very grateful for my parents who encourage me to not only excel in the classroom, but also in football. I would like to thank the Indiana Football Coaches Association as well as the Indianapolis Colts for this tremendous honor."
Along with hauling in passes, Boonville's Mason Phillips has certainly grasped his school lessons as well by being named valedictorian.
"It is a great honor to be selected as a part of this prestigious group," said Phillips, who had seven catches for 114 yards with three scores for the Pioneers. "My devotion to football and to my performance in the classroom has always been a major priority of mine, and it is a blessing to be recognized for all of this hard work. I am beyond thankful to my family, coaches, teachers, and most of all my savior Jesus Christ, for constantly motivating me to stay determined in these areas of my life."
Recognized for their ability to patrol the secondary and the classroom were Castle valedictorian Evan Reff and Centerville salutatorian Devin Frazier.
"I'm honored to be included in a such a great group of student athletes being recognized throughout the state," said Reff, who registered 53 tackles for the Knights. "It's a great feeling to see the hard work done both in the classroom and on the field paying off."
"I am honored to receive this prestigious award and be included in this elite group of my peers," said Frazier, who tallied 36 tackles and an interception for the Bulldogs. "The hard work, sacrifice, and discipline it took to get here are a valuable set of traits gained from football, and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to have played this great sport. I would like to thank my coaches, teammates, family, and teachers for all of their love, support and dedication throughout my high school career."
Other offensive players recognized were Greensburg wide receiver Jonathan Ralston (valedictorian), Tell City tight end Jason Naviaux (salutatorian), North White running back Parker Smith (valedictorian), Fountain Central running back Austin Pickett (valedictorian), Winamac lineman Brendan Day (valedictorian), North Montgomery lineman Benjamin Pietsch (valedictorian), South Spencer lineman John Brown (valedictorian), Indianapolis Roncalli lineman Sam Secrest, and Eastbrook kicker Lucas Shilts.
Also chosen on defense were South Bend Saint Joseph linemen Zach Kennedy, Terre Haute North linebacker Griffin Klingerman (valedictorian), Caston linebacker Sam Smith (valedictorian), Blackford linebacker Scott Winger (salutatorian), Hamilton Southeastern linebacker Louden Sundling, and Crawford County punter Keith Brooks.