NEW PORT RICHEY — One of Pasco County hidden gems resides at Ridgewood High School. This gem is also made of glass.
It’s sophomore running back Glass Wilson.
Used sparingly last season at tailback, Wilson has taken on a much bigger role this season and responded in a way many might not have expected. The sophomore is closing in on 1,000 yards rushing, already racking up an impressive 974 yards and eight touchdowns on 181 carries.
The last Ridgewood running back to rush for such yardage as an underclassman was Byronell Arline, who rushed for 5,279 yards during his time with the Rams, including nearly 1,500 in 2005 as a 6-foot, 220-pound sophomore. Wilson, who is Arline’s half-cousin, may be on to something when it comes to becoming the next in line of great Ridgewood tailbacks that includes likes of Arline, Adamm Oliver (Georgia Tech), Mike Galiza and Sterling Ross.
“I always thought there was good things ahead for me because of my work ethic,” Wilson said. “It’s just crazy to think about the next couple years. I know the history of running backs in the county and to possibly do what some of them have would be awesome.”
Throughout the season, Wilson’s workload has increased in relation to the amount of touches per contest. Through the first five games, Wilson carried the ball an average of 17.8, but in the past three games its risen to 30.6 vs. Wesley Chapel (38), Wiregrass Ranch (23) and Hudson (31). The Rams have been competitive in every game so far, with Wilson and the offensive line providing a strong punch. One of the county’s best offensive lines, spearheaded by Chris Branfield and Andrew Spirou, has provided Wilson with a consistent push up front and open lanes to run through.
“The offensive line is wonderful,” Wilson said. “They’re the best line in Pasco County in my mind. They do just such a great job blocking for me. Without them, I’m probably not doing much of anything as a running back. I’m just so thankful for them.”
Though Ridgewood’s playoff chances this season are slim after last Friday’s 47-26 loss to Hudson, coach Jay Fulmer is optimistic the Rams have better days ahead with Wilson in the backfield. The Rams will return the bulk of their roster, including Wilson, running back Clarence Farria (220 rushing yards) and quarterback Nick Michaels (619 yards passing). Wilson, who is averaging 5.38 yards per rush, returns with nearly the 40-man roster not taking a big hit, with only seven seniors on the team.
The future remains bright for Ridgewood football and it starts with Wilson.
Correspondent Andy Villamarzo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.