Five foot tall, nine-year-old Alex Wilson was decked out head to toe in pads, a helmet and his oversized navy jersey, towering over his friends in the huddle. Little did he know that nine years later and a whopping 1½ feet taller, he would lead the MCAL in touchdowns, yards and receptions for wide receivers.
Football continues to be a huge part of Alex’s life, not just because of the “knocking of skulls” and “the thrill of the game” but also due to his connections with his teammates.
“I really liked the energy that came with [football],” Alex said. “The passion I felt and learned from my peers made an impact on me and helped show me what a great sport it is and how much fun it is to play.”
Although Alex is a preferred walk-on to San Diego State University for football, a Division I school, his athleticism translated into many sports during his high school career. During his freshman year he played baseball, and for the past four years he’s been a top player on the freshman, JV and varsity basketball teams.
“Since he was little, Alex always loved playing any and every team sport,” said Nancy Wilson, Alex’s mother. “He loved competing and working together with his friends.”
Alex sees parallels between basketball and football in regards to the quickness and agility needed to play both sports, but also differences in the roles he played on both teams.
“In basketball, I’m more of a leader to the younger kids—teaching them how to play at the varsity level,” Alex said. “Whereas in football it’s mostly a senior team so it was more of me playing and doing my own role.”
Alex not only performed on offense, but also dominated on defense, earning second team all MCAL as a strong safety.
“Alex was used in a lot of different ways and he thrived in every position he played in.” said Redwood coach Allen Talley. “He always showed and played through the pains of playing football.”
Wilson has played with many of his football teammates since elementary school and has developed many close friendships
“Alex brings a lot of experience; whenever we’re in a tight situation, Alex knows how to handle it,” said senior running back Nick Calzaretta, who has known Alex since 4th grade. “He’s a veteran guy and I know I could always rely on him.”
Throughout Alex’s three years on varsity football, the team’s record steadily improved. For the first time in Redwood history, the varsity team won a playoff game, beating Casa Grande in the first round of the 2016 NCS tournament.
“It was really humbling to know that we were the first team in 60 years to have accomplished that,” Alex said. “It’s crazy to know that we are going down in the record books.”
But eventually, the Giants’ magical season neared the end. By the fourth quarter of the Campolindo playoff game, the Giants knew this would be the last time the tight-knit team would play together. The realization hit Wilson especially hard.
“I felt pride for what we had built within the Redwood football program, but sad we couldn’t continue on” Wilson said.