Junior might help East passing game catch fire

With record-setting tailback Markell Jones having graduated, more Columbus East football players are likely to touch the ball this season.

That means the Olympians’ wide receivers, kind of like lonely Maytag repairmen a year ago as Jones rushed for a state record 3,536 yards, should be more involved in the mix.

It would appear that junior wide receiver Cam Wilson should be at the head of the list when it comes to getting his hands on the football more. However, Wilson wanted to get one thing straight.

“Obviously, we all are looking forward to a new season, and I’m really looking forward to it, too,” he said after a practice this week. “But the main goal for me is winning.

“If I get a few balls, great.”

Wilson, who last season had 17 catches for 330 yards, a 19.4 per catch average, is fine with whatever offensive strategy his coaches design.

“Obviously, there was not a running back in the state last season who could run for more yards than the guy we had,” he said. “I suppose we may throw the ball more this year.”

Head coach Bob Gaddis said the makeup of his team, with another talented tailback in Steven O”Neal, and a crop of big, talented tight ends, means that the Olympians likely will stick to a run-first mentality in 2015.

However, he said that the wide receivers have a key role whether they are catching passes or blocking.

“Cam has a lot of talent,” Gaddis said. “I’m real happy that his work ethic has picked up. He has worked on all the other aspects besides catching a football. More than 70 percent of the time, you’re a blocker (at wide receiver). He understands that he has to be a well-rounded player.”

It would seem likely that Columbus East eventually will utilize Wilson’s speed.

“Everyone understands that he is fast,” Gaddis said. “He is a guy who can stretch the field.”

Wilson proved he could stretch the field in last season’s semistate loss to New Palestine when he caught an 81-yard touchdown pass from quarterback K.J. McCarter.

“I think I’ve gotten faster this year,” he said.

Wilson spent the summer working with his team and doing individual workouts with his dad, Troy Wilson. He also attended football camps at Northwestern University, Miami of Ohio and Purdue.

“I learned a lot,” he said. “One of my biggest dreams is to play in college. It is a life-long dream.”

He grew an inch to 6-foot tall and he gained five pounds to weigh 180.

Besides physical improvements, Wilson said he has learned more about the game.

“Having a year under my belt helps,” he said. “I felt the game was really fast last season. It’s a little easier to understand now.”

He is looking forward to this season playing with McCarter.

“K.J. is a great dude,” he said. “He is fun to be around, and he definitely is a smart guy.”

Besides his big touchdown catch in the semistate game, he also had a fumble that was critical in a close game.

“I made some mistakes,” he said. “But it is best to learn from those mistakes. With the highs come the lows.”

It was tough recovering from the low of a semistate loss.

“I was completely demoralized,” he said. “We played our hearts out. But I got a lot of support from my parents (his mom is Cassondra Wilson) and my friends.”

At a glance

WHO: Cam Wilson

SCHOOL: Columbus East

YEAR: Junior

SIZE: 6-foot, 180

POSITION: Wide receiver

2014 statistics: 17 catches, 330 yards, 19.4 yard average per catch, 4 touchdowns