C-NS running back Jeremiah Willis on fast track to featured role
9/14/2018 5:49 AM

Outside the walls of the Cicero-North Syracuse football locker room, running back Jeremiah Willis can sometimes be heard before he's seen.  After a recent practice, the beat of Willis belting out NBA YoungBoy's "Outside Today'' filtered into the hall seconds before he strolled through the doorway. Willis has a background of starring roles in school musicals and loves to sing anything, ranging from Motown to rap.  "My whole life I’ve been outgoing. Always very curious. I’m very adventurous,'' he said. "I think that’s just me. It’s just my personality.''  On the football field, by comparison, Willis is visually front and center almost all the time. The problem for opposing defenses is catching him.  Good luck with that.  The senior is perhaps the most dangerous player in Section III. In his season debut for C-NS in a win over Liverpool last week, he rushed for 118 yards on five carries (a staggering average of 23.6 yards per carry) and two touchdowns.  And that was probably just a warmup. Willis, who also plays defensive back, is working his way into a new featured role with the defending sectional champ Northstars this season, replacing Erik Pride as No. 1 running back.  Willis flashed an impressive coming attraction of that potential last season, when he took a break from his primary duties in the secondary to produce nine rushing touchdowns and 649 yards on just 39 carries (an average of 16.6 yards per tote.)  "There’s nobody like Erik. He’s a great athlete,'' Willis said. "I’m not going to say it wasn’t hard (waiting his turn). I’m not going to say it wasn’t easy. He was just a great athlete. It was him and me. Of course I was patient. It’s alright to be patient.  "When I’m on a field, it’s a team effort. I don’t think about me. I don’t think about I. I do what’s best for the team. I get as many yards as I can. I don’t consider myself better than anybody else on this team because they put in as much work as I do. I’m just playing the game. I’m just playing with my team, doing what I love to do.''  And when it comes to sports, football might rank as a secondary passion for the 5-foot-11, 163-pound Willis.  While Willis is a blooming talent in football, he's already established himself as a dominant force in track and field. Last spring he won outdoor state titles in the long jump and triple jump.  His winning long jump of 24-feet, 3 inches set a Section III record and ranked as the No. 4 effort in the country among high school athletes last year. His triple jump of of 49-9.25 was the nation's 11th best effort last season and just 3.5 inches short of a 34-year-old sectional record in that event.  Willis also finished eighth in the 100 meters at states and ran on the C-NS 4x100 relay team which finished eighth.  Those performances were enough to earn him the award as Gatorade Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year for New York. Willis enjoys football, of course, but there's something about the nature of track that truly embodies his spirit.  "I’m the type of person that I don’t like to point fingers, or I don’t like to see fingers getting pointed,'' he explained. "If it’s that big of a deal, I feel why not do it yourself? And that’s why I came to track and field because when you’re out there running or jumping, or throwing, whatever you do, it’s you that’s putting in the work. It’s your work ethic.  "If it’s a shiny day out on the weekend or Sunday and we don’t have practice, it’s up to you to get out there and run and push yourself to the limits. If you don’t do that it’s going to cost you. You may lose. You may not get a (personal record). When it comes to track, that’s what I feel like. I feel it’s all up to me, and I am a hard-working person. I grind. I’m always looking to achieve new heights. I’m always looking to do my best.''  Willis will be asked to stretch himself even further for Northstars football this season. Head coach Dave Kline said the team was deeper last year, allowing Pride to dig in at running back and Willis to primarily handle responsibilities in the secondary. Now, Willis will be tested with significant time on both sides of the ball.  "The big thing with last year's team was we were able to play a lot of people just one way,'' Kline said. "This year we don't have as much depth in the skill positions and different spots as we had last year. So we're forced to play people a little bit more often both ways. I'm hoping he (Willis) is going to keep going forward. He going to take advantage of the opportunities he gets and shine. We're just trying to get him out in space a little bit more and let him just be an athlete out there.''  Whatever the results of those efforts, Willis often pours his emotion into writing. He is a prolific poet, frequently free-flowing words into his journal or phone (see example below).  "I write anything that comes to mind. In the years of high school … you experience heartbreak, you experience happiness, up and down feelings,'' he said. "You experience everything. Whenever I experience any type of feeling, I write, if I feel it’s important enough. It’s a feeling type of thing.''  Willis is approaching his final year of high school with a similar roll-with-what-happens outlook. His intention was to specialize in track and field in college, but he said Akron is interested in letting him compete in both that sport and football. Other schools may view him with that dual potential as well.  So depending how much Willis can keep squeezing out of his remaining time at C-NS, there may continue to be room for both activities in his life the next few years.  "At times I’m better at track and in at times I’m better in football. It’s the best of both worlds for me. I never really get enough of either one,'' he said. "I think it’s every senior’s dream to go out with a bang. That’s what Erik did last year and that’s what I’m doing this year. I don’t think it’s pressure at all. I ain’t worried about nobody else. I’m worried about myself, because this is me in the end. It’s what I can do, where I want to go, what I want to achieve. It doesn’t matter about anything else. One thing you don’t want to do is, especially with colleges and senior year, you don’t want to regret nothing.'' 

Not Too Social 
By Jeremiah Willis
One thing about me is I pay attention.
To every detail.
Even the ones that are missin.
I learned that the world bites
And if you want to survive you can’t run 
You have to fight.
I figured out I can’t trust nobody 
Nowadays trust is what kills somebody
Freezes the warm blood in your body
Or does something worst, probably.
Thing is I was taught by my parents to treat everyone with kindness
Even the ones that can’t see through their blindness
Childish and mindless
That they teach to there kids.
Spreads like a virus!
Your highness!
Change your ways before you lead yourself to madness 
Always remember your mind is priceless.
 But It seems the people closest to you are the most dangerous.
And my conscious says to have 3 eyes.
2 in the front and 1 in the back.
Because danger doesn’t always come straight at you but in the places you lack 
And will strike you dead till your eyes go black.
So always keep an eye out or you’ll forever be blind. 
And because of that trouble is always close.
Even with the people you value the most
Then next thing you know you’re toast.
No longer alive no longer the host
All because you’re boy thought all you did was boast
But really You was successful and just kept (things) real the most.
Now you’re lifeless…
a ghost…
Think this is a joke?
My Point!
don’t trust no one 
My bad I’m taking notes.
Notes of the very words I spoke
That’ll have you provoked to the point you choke
I’ll have you smoked
Like old folk I’ll have you wrinkled or broke
And you’ll never see me coming 
I’ll have my invisible cloak.
I need to keep to myself
People mess around with they feelings and kill them self
Change them self
Take the old them and put it on the shelf.
Like always
Sometimes I need to be alone
That way I can never be distracted 
But locked into my zone.
And it’s called “The King’s Throne”


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