Ben Wilson was watching his favorite football team Saturday night when an unblocked defender planted University of Florida star Tim Tebow into the turf. Tebow left the game and was later diagnosed with a concussion. It was a curious case of deja vu for Wilson, the Lakeside quarterback who suffered a concussion earlier this season against Greenbrier.
"I was watching and said 'I know what that feels like,' " said Wilson, a Florida supporter.
Doctors ordered Wilson to miss his team's next game, but he returned last week against Harlem to throw for a season-high 216 yards. His play at quarterback -- before and after the concussion -- is a big reason the Panthers are 4-0 for the first time in school history. Wilson has thrown for 499 yards in only three games, and his 166.3 passing yards per game is the best average in the area heading into this week's key Region 3-AAAA game at Hephzibah.
"He's living a dream of his," Lakeside coach Jody Grooms said. "He always wanted to play quarterback at Lakeside, and I'm happy for him. I think it's been very rewarding for him."
Wilson doesn't remember the hit that caused his concussion. He says plenty of moments from that game "are a bit fuzzy."
He initially resisted going to the doctor, but his mother Jeannine, who is a nurse, finally demanded. Meeting with a doctor, Wilson endured a series of unusual tests that gauged his reaction and memory.
"All kinds of crazy stuff," Wilson said.
They concluded Wilson shouldn't play against Glenn Hills, a game that ended up being a rain-soaked 18-0 Panthers' win. A week later, Wilson, a junior who started his first varsity game less than a month ago, had 267 yards of offense in a 43-7 win over Harlem. He completed only eight passes, but still impressed.
"He played well," Grooms said. "We think we're a pretty good team when he's there. ... He was a lot better with his progressions, pre- and post-snap and was able to make some plays."
Grooms prefers to have Wilson line up at quarterback, because that means backup Mark Weidenaar can play all over the field. Weidenaar, a wide receiver, is one of the best playmakers on the team.
"The passing game is working, because we have a lot of receivers (who) can go up and catch the ball," Wilson said. "I like just throwing it up there."
Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.