Athlete of the Week: Ford leading Wildcats after shift to QB

Cam Ford

FRONT ROYAL – Cam Ford spent some time as a sophomore splitting the snaps at quarterback for Warren County High School’s varsity football team two years ago before moving to a full-time wide receiver for the Wildcats last year. He thought his senior season this fall would consist of him again hauling in passes, not throwing them, but Warren County’s struggles this season prompted a change of plans.

Ford began playing some quarterback for the Wildcats this fall as early as their second game of the season against James Wood. His reps in the backfield continued to increase as the season wore on and the Wildcats’ continually searched for a spark to ignite an ineffective offense, and by Week 7 Ford became Warren County’s full-time starting quarterback.

“I didn’t really expect it, honestly,” Ford said after practice Monday evening. “Kind of caught me off guard. Just came into practice one day and got told, so I just started focusing on it, knew what I had to do. Had to try to lead the team.”

Ford did that on the road at George Mason last Friday night.

With the Wildcats desperately seeking a win to halt a five-game slide, Ford led the offense with 262 total yards and a pair of touchdowns to help drive Warren County to a 23-13 win in Bull Run District play. For his performance, Ford has been named The Northern Virginia Daily’s Athlete of the Week for Oct. 17-23.

“I think I did alright,” Ford said. “I think it was pretty solid to help the team win. Everybody else was doing their part so just thought I had to chip in.”

Ford certainly did his part. He completed 16 of 28 passes for 168 yards and also rushed 15 times for 94 yards and two touchdowns. Ford’s second rushing touchdown of the night, which developed on a read-option that he kept himself after spotting no George Mason defenders on the edge, came early in the second half to give the Wildcats a 20-0 lead.

Even when he wasn’t scoring, Ford was making an impact by keeping drives alive by converting multiple third downs, a product of what he said was great route running by his receivers and sound blocking from his offensive line.

Wildcats head coach Steven Crist agreed that Warren County’s third-down success was a group effort.

“(Ford) made a lot of nice throws, a lot of really nice reads. And the rest of the guys did a nice job too. He had good protection and (we) ran good routes and caught the ball, but he was a big part of a lot of those conversions,” Crist said.

“They just executed really, really well. The kids did a nice job. Cam all the way on down to the receivers and the running backs, and they were key. We were able to stay on the field a lot.”

Ford’s night could’ve easily gone south after a pair of ill-timed turnovers in the first half. Twice the senior was picked off in the end zone, including on Warren County’s opening drive of the game after getting good field position from a short punt and again in the closing seconds of the second quarter after the Wildcats used 17 plays to drive to the Mustangs’ 1-yard line.

But Ford bounced back.

“The team was actually a big part of that,” said Ford, who also snagged an interception on defense with less than a minute to play to seal the Wildcats’ win. “They helped me out. I got a little bit down but my team helped me get out of it. They told me that they had my back. They just helped me push through it and as a team we battled.”

Ford said making the transition back to quarterback this season required some readjusting on his part as he became reacclimated to the footwork and signals necessary to succeed at the position.

Crist said Ford quickly proved to the coaching staff that he had enough of a handle on the position to step in for junior R.J. Keeney, who began the season as Warren County’s QB.

“We knew what kind of skills (Ford) had and we anticipated him playing some. It’s just kind of the way the season played out, kind of the way things developed as we went,” Crist said. “There were some times where R.J. was a little banged up during the game so we made those moves and we saw some positives from it and decided to stick with it.”

Aside from being a true dual-threat out of the backfield, Crist said Ford has become even more of a leader for the Wildcats in his new role.

“He’s providing a lot of leadership for us, as well. Not that he wasn’t when he was playing receiver, but he’s kind of stepped it up here the last few weeks. Really proud of him for that,” Crist said.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com