October 5, 2010 7:53:00 AM
On paper, Antonio Wilson is just another name on a page.
At 5-foot-7, 160 pounds, the West Lowndes High School junior running back would be considered small by all standards.
But size tells only part of the story for a running back.
That''s why you have to see Wilson in person to understand it is the size of his heart and his motor that allows his name jump off the page and helps him run through and past defenses.
On Friday, Wilson had another one of those efforts, rushing for 198 yards and three touchdowns to lead the West Lowndes High football team to a 40-35 victory against Hamilton in a Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 2A, Region 2 game.
For his accomplishments, Wilson is The Dispatch''s Prep Player of the Week.
"It comes from the heart," Wilson said. "It doesn''t matter how small I am. I do what I have got to do."
Wilson, who also had a 2-yard touchdown run and a 92-yard kick return for a score, burst home from 3 yards late in the fourth quarter to help the Panthers rally and improve to 4-2 and 1-0 in the region. His night''s work included 26 carries, which is typical of someone West Lowndes coach Bobby Berry calls a "workhorse."
Sometimes, though, Berry said it is difficult to convince the hard-driving Wilson to take the easy way out and to go out of bounds so he can avoid injuries the rest of the season.
Berry said Wilson wants to play defense (cornerback), too, but he said it is more important for the Panthers to have him fresh for the fourth quarter.
"He has matured to that level, and he knew going into the season he was going to be the one we were going to go to," Berry said. "I told him in the spring and in the summer he was going to be the one to carry the load, and he has lived up to that billing. I hope he continues to do it."
Wilson has heard comments about his size ever since the fourth grade when he started playing football. He always has made a point to show doubters his size shouldn''t be the first thought in their mind because he can do things others can''t on the football field.
"I have gotten stronger so I can break tackles easier and go faster," said Wilson, who attended a football camp in the summer at Southern Miss. "The camp got me better with my footwork and with my vision."
Wilson said he would like to play football in college but he hasn''t set a list of schools. He said he wants to continue to improve his strength and speed to help quiet the doubts people might have when they see his name on a roster.
For now, though, he will keep shaking past and driving through defenders because he knows that''s what his team needs him to do.
"It feels great," Wilson said of the expectations on his shoulders. "I want to win, so I want the ball in my hands."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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