Panthers basketball star is a football first timer

The new wide receiver/defensive back appears as if he will greatly help Chesapeake High School’s football team.

He’s not a transfer, but a familiar face to Panthers’ fans, just not on the football field. Levi Blankenship, Chesapeake’s all-state and all-area basketball star, is playing football for the first time. By “first time,” it really is his first time.

“If you count middle school recess. Other than that, I’ve haven’t played football at all before,” Blankenship said.

The 6-foot, 155-pound senior brings athleticism and leadership to the football field. Blankenship doesn’t pretend to know the intricacies of the game as he does basketball, but he’s quickly picking up the sport.

Levi’s really taken to football,” Chesapeake coach Todd Knipp said. “We’ve kind of brought him along pretty quick, to be honest. He’s stepped in and picked it up. He’s a natural leader. He’s not real verbal, but his work ethic and the way he approaches things, the kids have picked up on and bought into. He’s been a great addition to our program, for sure.”

Blankenship averaged 16.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game in basketball last season. A first-team The Herald-Dispatch All Tri-State selection as a guard, he excelled on the court and is a college prospect.

Blankenship said he hopes football will help with basketball, but picked up the shoulder pads and helmet to make the most of his final year of high school.

“It was my senior year and I wanted to try something new and get the experience,” Blankenship said. “I feel like it will help me mentally get prepared for competition and carry over into basketball. I think it’ll help me get tougher and stronger and keep me in shape a little bit, too.”

Blankenship is an honor student, so picking up the terminology isn’t much of a challenge. The goals are the same — score and prevent opponents from scoring.

“I like it a lot,” Blankenship said. “I’m learning a lot. I’m trying to learn everything fast, picking up the sport in one year. I’m really trying to focus and learn the formations, the plays and the positions. It’s going pretty well so far.”

Knipp is a coaching veteran. He said not many kids can come out as a senior never having played and make an impact. Blankenship, though, isn’t just any kid.

Very few,” Knipp said. “In the locker room and on the field he’s really going to help us out. Those are few and far between, but we’re excited about this season with him.”

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