Wills excelling at double duty for Blue Demons
CHRISTIANSBURG – High school football coaches aren’t prone to snap decisions. Shoot-from-the-hip types don’t seem to last long at any level in this trade.
Two years ago, Christiansburg coach Tim Cromer made a hasty personnel decision. It can’t be claimed that the call was a totally seat of the pants deal. But how often is it that substantive football player evaluations are based on one game and a junior varsity tilt at that?
Cromer took one look at Seth Wills play in the Blue Demons JV season opener and all but made up his mind about the freshman lineman and linebacker. After brief consultations with his assistant coaches — the brevity of the deliberations can’t be overemphasized – Cromer issued young Wills a battlefield promotion.
Cromer has had no cause whatsoever to second-guess the hasty judgement.
“Seth’s a player,” Cromer said.
Now a junior, the 6-foot, 206-pound Wills is playing a lot of football for the 2-0 Blue Demons. Given that Christiansburg is coming off a 35-14 victory at Giles in which the visitors played well in all phases, particularly the running game and on defense, Wills’ contributions had substantial influence on the outcome of the contest.
These days, he’s going both ways at offensive guard and middle linebacker. He took an unwelcome seat on the bench at one point in the Spartans game when his calves started locking up on him as hot weather cramping took over, but once that passed, he was right back at it knocking heads.
“Full speed,” Cromer said. “That’s another thing about him: He’s tough.”
Willls and fellow Jordan Fenton were the only able-bodied returning veterans on the offensive line. Senior D.J. Dowdy is another veteran, but he’s been injured with a broken hand. He’s expected back in the lineup shortly.
Christiansburg rolled up 385 total yards and 17 first downs on the Spartans. Of that total, 361 yards were on the ground. Most of those gains came from backs Joey Augustin and De’Quan Green-Gause, who combined for 297 rushing yards and all five TDs. Wills’ part in that often involved pulling out of the line to block for the backs when they hit the flanks, which was often.
Giles was stacking the middle defensively, so the Blue Demons responded by widening the field to spread out the defense and create gaps for running room.
“Our guards Logan Winters and Seth Wills really set the tone,” Cromer said.
“That’s what we always do,” Wills said.
This makes the second season that Wills has been a full-timer. When he was a freshman, he alternated at outside linebacker and earned several starts. Last year as the Demons were advancing to the Group AA Division 4 championship game, Wills started at both guard and strong-side linebacker. This year, he’s moved over to middle linebacker while continuing to play guard.
Christiansburg was particularly stout defensively against Giles.
“We stepped it up and everybody did their job,” Wills said. “We had a good week of practice. Everybody pushed really hard. We wanted to come out and make a statement that we aren’t a pushover, that we can play a little bit.”
Point made. Holding the Spartans to 250 yards including zero through the air, and two TDs is a job well done.
The victory is of particular sweetness to the Wills family, which has all sorts of ties to the Giles County- Monroe County, W.Va. area. The Wills’ were from the Peterstown, W.Va., area. Other branches of the family were in Narrows. Wills’ uncle Donnie Jackson Is the coach at James Monroe in West Virginia. There is football tradition galore on both side of the border in that part of the world .
Wills’ older brother Stephen played at Christiansburg and started at quarterback as a sophomore before Brenden Motley won the job for good for the 2010 and 2011 seasons. The two Wills brothers played together for the first time when their varsity careers overlapped. Stephen graduated last year. It was a wonderful experience for each.
Seth Wills has already played in two state final fours counting the 2010 semifinal loss to Harrisonburg and last year’s title game defeat to Briar Woods.
“I don’t remember much about the Harrisonburg game other than the snow, how cold it was, and how hard we played,” Seth Wills said.
Before it’s over, he’s going to have a whole lot more memories to sort out.
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