After missing all of his freshman season with a knee injury, Somerset High School quarterback Kaiya Sheron had a sluggish start to his sophomore year in the 2018 season. Heading into district play last year, Sheron quickly adjusted to the faster-paced varsity game and guided the Briar Jumpers all the way to a regional championship and the Class AA State Semifinals.
"Last year, Kaiya was a first-year varsity player even though he was a sophomore, but he was playing like a freshman," Somerset coach Robbie Lucas stated. "That's not a shot on Kaiya or his ability, but it is simple that the game moves a lot faster when you move up to the varsity level, and I think he experienced that coming off the injury. He handled himself very well, but maybe had a few too many turnovers, but he knows that and he will fix that. He made big-time plays down the stretch last year, and I expect him to make big plays this year as well."
If the game was moving fast for Sheron in the early part of the 2018 season, it must have slowed down to a snail's pace by the regional championship game. Sheron completed 16 of 22 passes for 264 yards with two touchdowns, and rushed for 51 yards on five carries with a rushing TD.
After a short winter detour playing on the Briar Jumpers' basketball team, Sheron re-focused his efforts back to his football game with a total of 15 pre-season camps during the off-season.
"This summer I went to multiple camps..like 15 or so," Sheron stated. "I focused on what they were telling me and how to improve my game - not just for the summer but for the season to help my team out."
The camps paid off for Sheron at the high school level, and the future college level. With two high school football seasons ahead of the athletic Sheron, the University of Kentucky made him an offer.
"Kaiya got a big-time offer from the University of Kentucky," Lucas stated. "Yes, he got a Division-I college scholarship offer, but he is not a Division-I player just yet. He has a lot of work to do and he knows that. He will put the time in the weight room, he will put the time in on working on technique and fundamentals. I expect a lot more offers coming his way."
The Wildcat D-1 offer was exciting for Sheron, as well as a relief.
"The offer from Kentucky was huge for me because it was my first and it is close to home," Sheron stated. "It was a big offer for me and my family to get that first offer out of the way."
With his first D-1 scholarship offer under his belt, Sheron was now ready to contribute to the success of his Briar Jumpers' football team.
In the Briar Jumpers' 40-0 drubbing of Rockcastle County High School on Friday night, Sheron put up some of his best numbers of his career. Sheron threw three touchdowns passes and rushed for a touchdown. Sheron had 237 yards in the air and 32 yards on the ground.
"My game is way ahead of where it was this time last year," Sheron admitted. "I was coming off my injury and I went to maybe three camps - not 15 - and I wasn't getting all the coaching like I got this summer. My game got better around the fifth or sixth game of the season last year."
If the season opener is any indication of Sheron's potential, Briar Jumper fans may be in for a treat for the next two years.
"He has a lot of growing to do, and you have to remember he is just a junior," Lucas stated. "This will be his second year starting and we expect a huge leap from last year, but the sky is the limit for him. He has a lot of talent and a lot of potential."
Sheron stated that he got his individual goals out of the way this summer, and is now totally focused on trying to make his team better and successful.
"We know we can be special this year," Sheron said. "We did graduate a lot of players from last year, but we know we can still be special and get where we need to be."
STEVE CORNELIUS is the CJ Sports Editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @CJSportseditor.