Gouverneur senior Jacob Shippee spends most of his time at home watching movies.
But he isn’t binge-watching Netflix or some other streaming device. He takes film home of Gouverneur’s opponents and breaks it down so he can prepare for the upcoming game.
“He watches a ton (of film) and he knows what the other team will do on just about every play,” Wildcats coach Sean Devlin said. “He’s the captain out on the field on defense. He’s directing traffic, telling people where to go, what to do, telling people tendencies (teams) have in a formation. He can tackle. He is awkwardly quick for his size (5-foot-9, 195 pounds). He’s a wrestler so he understands leverage.”
Shippee is so well-prepared that he rarely guesses a play wrong from his linebacker position.
“We don’t see him make a lot of mistakes, if anything he gets so excited he almost gets there too fast.” Devilin said. “He might run by a few things here and there and then he’ll fix it as the game moves along.”
Shippee’s studying paid off last weekend when Joseph Cummings intercepted a late pass to clinch Gouverneur’s 14-11 state Class C semifinal victory over Valhalla. Shippee saw the way Valhalla lined up, mentioned to Cummings to be ready for the ball and Cummings then picked off Valhalla quarterback Michael Dawson, which led to Gouverneur running out the clock.
“I key on players if they are in a different position than they normally play,” Shippee said. “I look at formations and what they run out of the formations, if the running back is deeper, I look to see something like that.
“Our other linebacker (Cummings), I’ll tell him every play before it happens. (State play) it gets harder, you only get a week to look at it. When you play a team from your section you played them all your life.”
The Wildcats (11-0 overall) play another new team Friday in Section 4’s Susquehanna Valley (12-0), the defending state champions in the Class C title game at 6 p.m. at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
Shippee, who leads the team with 110 tackles this season, will have watched his film by that point and then simply has to get over the excitement of playing in the Carrier Dome.
“Every time I think about it I get excited and I can’t believe it,” Shippee said. “It’s a crazy feeling. I went (in 2016 to watch) when OFA made it. It was like a higher-paced game, more intense.”
Three years later, Shippee and his Wildcats teammates are ready to play in the Dome themselves, something that the senior — who is always ready for the next play — admits he didn’t see coming.
“I honestly don’t think anybody really did,” he said. “We caught everybody by surprise.”
Shippee offers a friendly personality but add pads and a helmet and a different side comes out, like what happened in Gouverneur’s first state playoff game earlier this month, a 60-20 victory over Saranac Lake.
“They threw a screen (pass), he knew it was coming,” Devlin said. “As soon as the wide receiver caught the ball, he had a very hard hit on the wide receiver and it set the tone for the rest of the game. It was loud, it was legal, and our guys jumped onto that. Those are the kind of football players you want. You want nice guys, fun. You can joke with (Shippee) all the time, but when he puts a helmet on, it’s time to go to work. You have to have a different demeanor.”
Shippee wants to keep playing football after this season ends and he is hoping that the extra exposure from state playoff games, including Friday’s championship game, may catch the attention of a college coach.
“I’m hoping that more letters come in,” Shippee said. “This is something the school has never done before, we are coming out of nowhere. We weren’t getting talked up. This will get some colleges looking at us. A couple of us have already had a meeting with Castleton (University, in Vermont).”