After sustaining a dislocated shoulder in the fourth quarter, Devon Wilson could have observed the remainder of Center Grove’s Class 6A semistate game from the sideline.
Wilson’s so-called breather lasted all of three plays.
Faced with the prospect of watching the Trojans’ dream season — not to mention his high school football career — conclude against a high-powered Avon offense, Wilson eventually trotted back onto the field.
“My arm started feeling fine, and I wanted to play,” said Wilson, a two-year starter at defensive end who is fourth on the team in tackles for loss with four. “I just try to do my job out there.
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“I’ve got to push myself for the team so we can get another win.”
Center Grove did, its 13th straight.
The nail-biting 35-34 double-overtime victory against Avon last Friday night earned the Trojans a trip to the Class 6A championship game against Penn on Nov. 28.
Wilson, a rock-solid 5-foot-11, 235-pound senior and one of Center Grove’s strongest players — he bench-presses 350 pounds and can squat as much as 390 — exited in the fourth quarter, eventually returned and finished the game with two tackles.
A week earlier, Wilson recorded a season-high four tackles in Center Grove’s 24-13 regional victory at Warren Central.
Wilson isn’t the first member of his family assigned to frustrate opposing linemen and skill-position players for the Trojans’ “D.”
Former Center Grove defensive lineman Dmitri Wilson, who is two years older than Devon, finished his senior season with 37 tackles, including 8.5 for loss, for coach Eric Moore’s 2013 squad, which finished 11-2 after a five-point semistate loss at Warren Central.
Wilson doesn’t have his elder sibling’s height (Dmitri is 6-2) or bulk (265 pounds). However, Devon, who actually lined up at linebacker and wore No. 27 prior to his junior season, has his own way of getting the job done.
“Devon gets by on good size, great hips and powerful explosion. He’s a real tough kid. Good tackler. What he lacks in speed he makes up for with defensive savvy,” Moore said.
“He’s not so much a speed rush guy, but if he gets his hands on you he usually brings you down.”
Watching Dmitri compete is what encouraged Wilson to switch sports in the first place.
Unlike the majority of his current teammates who came up through the Center Grove Bantam Football League, Wilson got a late start learning the Trojans’ offensive and defensive philosophies.
“I actually didn’t play football until I was in seventh grade. That’s when Dmitri started playing, but I had been playing soccer before that,” Wilson said. “I made the switch to (defensive) end before last season.”
A sprained knee sustained during the preseason forced Wilson to miss Center Grove’s first three games, victories over Warren Central, Whiteland and Carmel. He returned to the Trojans’ lineup in time for the 31-19 victory over defending 6A state champion Ben Davis on Sept. 11.
Center Grove had moved into the No. 1 slot in the 6A poll earlier that week and has been there ever since. With the Trojans finally over the proverbial postseason hump after losing at semistate the previous four seasons, it’s Wilson’s intent to make sure they end the season that way.
“I’m probably most excited about that first defensive play,” Wilson said with a smile of the upcoming game at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“It’s just going to be a great experience. Something I’ll never forget and just a great opportunity.”
THE WILSON FILE
Name: Devon Wilson
Family: Mother, Lisa Otero; grandmother, Juanita Rady; brothers, Dmitri, 20, and Dominic, 17
Favorite TV show: “SportsCenter”
Favorite food: Honey barbecue chicken wings
Favorite movie: “Gridiron Gang”
Favorite athlete: Ray Lewis
Favorite team: Houston Texans