Cathedral High School senior wide receiver Ishmael Blackmon signals to a coach that he is ready to start receiving drills Thursday afternoon during a team practice at the school. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)
Cathedral High School senior wide receiver Ishmael Blackmon signals to a coach that he is ready to start receiving drills Thursday afternoon during a team practice at the school. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)

Football 2013 impact players: CHS standout ready for injury-free year

Published 12:01am Sunday, August 18, 2013

NATCHEZ — Often times, athletes will sustain an injury during the course of a game. Wide receiver Ishmael Blackmon initially got hurt on a lake.

“It was on our off week, after we (opened the season) against ACCS,” Blackmon recalled. “I tore some ligaments in my right shoulder when I went tubing. It was a weird accident. It kind of made me mad, because I was just trying to have some fun, and it ended up being one of my worst mistakes.”

But a subsequent injury during a game several weeks later stopped his junior season short last fall, leaving him dejected and wondering what could have been. Blackmon returned for the Green Wave in week five against Stringer, only to injure his shoulder further during the course of the game.

“I couldn’t pop it into place as easily,” Blackmon said. “The doctors in Jackson said my season was over at that point. There were too many torn ligaments.”

Blackmon said part of him wanted to start crying, but he told himself it wasn’t the end of the world.

“That’s what it felt like,” he said. “But I told myself I’d come back bigger, faster and stronger and wear protective gear.”

Now, Blackmon says he’s 100 percent recovered from the injury, and he followed through on his vow to use more padding on his shoulder. He also let the negative experience push him to work that much harder during the offseason.

“It definitely motivated me,” Blackmon said. “I saw how good the team was, and I knew we weren’t losing that many seniors. I think I can help out just a little bit, and we can be even better.”

Cathedral head coach Ron Rushing said he’s already seen a difference this year in Blackmon compared to years past.

“He looks great,” Rushing said. “He’s made some cuts at practice that we haven’t seen him make in the past. He’s looked as good as he’s looked since I’ve coached him. He’s 100 percent and ready to go.”

After vowing he wouldn’t go on any more tubing trips, Blackmon spent the offseason working on his speed.

“I’m not a big or strong guy, so people like me count on speed to try to outrun and shake defenders,” Blackmon said. “I ran a lot of hills every day after I was cleared to work out again.”

Rushing said losing Blackmon and Khalil Brice to injury last fall was a big blow to the team.

“We centered everything around him and Khalil, so when they went down, we had to totally change what we were doing,” Rushing said. “Not being able to have that scoring threat, your teammates and the other players know it can affect what you want to do offensively.”

Now that he’s back, Rushing said they would be relying on Blackmon heavily. And Blackmon said he understands other teams will have a bull’s eye on him.

“You expect it, but you count on your other teammates to make plays,” Blackmon said. “We have a lot of great playmakers on the team. I like them to key on me, because it opens up other players.”

After Friday night’s 28-0 shutout of Wilkinson County Christian Academy, Blackmon said he has high hopes for this year’s Cathedral team.

“Our defensive line and our whole defense were outstanding,” Blackmon said. “We have a lot of great playmakers on defense, and our offensive scheme will be pretty hard to stop.”

But Blackmon, who plays defensive back on defense, will only get time on offense initially, Rushing said, to help protect his shoulder.

“I understand where he’s coming from, but I love defense and catching interceptions,” Blackmon said. “I’ve been playing defense forever, but he doesn’t want me to get hurt, so I’m fine with that.”

Team goals for Cathedral include winning district first and going deep into the playoffs, Blackmon said. For him personally, he said he wants to break the Mississippi High School Athletic Association’s single-season record for all-purpose yards.

“I don’t know what that number is, but I’m going for 3,000 all-purpose yards,” Blackmon said. “That’s my goal.”

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