MILLEDGEVILLE — Bouncing back from injury, John Milledge Academy’s Cam O’Neal made a large impact on the team’s win over Covenant last Friday earning him his first Athlete of the Week honor and JMA’s first on the season.
O’Neal carried the ball on 10 different occasions last week, racking up 107 yards against Covenant and two trips to the end zone on the night.
“We kind of knew we had him — he was in the mix early, but with the injuries he’s been a step slower than he usually is, and that’s still pretty fast. He fits in with those tailbacks we already have and he’s a good weapon to have,” J.T. Wall, head coach, said. “It’s a tribute to the way he works, but it’s also a tribute to the offensive line. He was hitting the hole, and hitting it hard.”
The sophomore tailback has battled injury all season long, an ailment that carried over from track season last spring.
“The same thing happened in football that happened in track with getting an injury and having to sit out,” Wall said. “He was out the last couple weeks for us, so this was the first game he’s been healthy since the beginning of the year.”
Over the summer O’Neal worked tirelessly to get healthy and earn a starting spot in the Trojan lineup, which paid off for the young player last Friday night.
“He’s a good, hard-working kid. He really came and worked hard this summer, and got bigger, stronger and faster,” Wall said.
With some of the best speed on the team, O’Neal showed that he is healthy and ready to make some noise the rest of the season. One of his 10 carries last week resulted in a gain of 41 yards for JMA.
“His open field speed is some of the best speed we’ve got,” Wall said. “If we can ever get him out in space he can really do some special things.”
Heading into the game against Covenant, the Trojans had no plan of the young sophomore carrying the majority of the load at tailback, but Wall admits O’Neal was having a breakout game at the position.
“We didn’t really go into the game looking to get him the bulk of the carries, it kind of just worked out that way and he made the best of his opportunities,” Wall said. “You could see his production never waivered even when we put in younger guys up front; he kind of stayed steady, which is what we’re looking for. He had some big runs, and I don’t think he had a negative run all night out of 10 carries.”
Wall expects big things from O’Neal in the future as he continues to learn the offense and get more comfortable in the Trojans’ backfield.
“I think he’s grasping the offense and that’s kind of a hard thing for a sophomore to do,” Wall said. “His future is bright if he just keeps working the way he’s been working.”