Already full of playmakers, Polar Bears find another in Longwell

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — At 5-foot-6 and 140 pounds, junior Cam Longwell is one of the smallest players on Fairmont Senior.

Throughout the 2018 season, however, opponents have learned Longwell’s impact on the Polar Bears is far bigger than his stature.

Just last Saturday in a 59-0 win over No. 12 Weir in a Class AA semifinal, Longwell was responsible for receiving touchdowns of 13, 62 and 21 yards, respectively, as he helped the Polar Bears pile up more than 500 yards of offense to secure a third straight trip to the state title game.

“When he came in, we all knew that he had something special,” FSHS senior quarterback Connor Neal said. “It was just getting him in the weight room with us and on the field every day after practices so we could get that chemistry and be able to hook up on Friday nights and make plays together. He’s done a great job of that this year and he’s a great receiver.”

It doesn’t hurt Longwell that he has one of the state’s most efficient and prolific quarterbacks throwing to him in Neal. The left-handed QB likes to spread the wealth and has utilized wideouts J.D. Smith and Jake Pitman consistently, while also often getting Gage Michael involved.

Unlike the aforementioned trio though, Longwell didn’t have a history of success at the varsity level prior to this season. Still, Longwell’s success hasn’t caught second-year FSHS head coach Nick Bartic by surprise.

“Coaches have been on him since he was a freshman and we saw the potential that he had,” Bartic said. “He’s always had speed and athleticism. It was just a matter of him learning the offense and understanding all the signals. 

“He’s smart and once he understood the offense, he gets it in that he knows more than what the play call is, he knows why that play is called. He’s a real heady player and on top of his speed and athleticism, he worked very hard in the offseason on his hands. The light went on for him to do what he needed to do to make it click and to put himself in this position.”

Following an opening-round playoff win against Lewis County, Longwell’s season totals were 28 catches for 480 yards and four touchdowns. Those numbers have significantly increased with his efforts in the last two games, including the three-touchdown effort against the Red Riders.

Longwell and his fellow wide recivers have spent this week preparing to face a stingy Bluefield defense in Friday’s state title game at Wheeling Island Stadium. 

The Beavers’ athleticism in their secondary can create problems for opposing teams’ passing attacks, while pressing quarterbacks isn’t foreign to their defensive line.

Still, with Neal throwing it around to a plethora of weapons, the Polar Bears create plenty of matchup problems and Longwell’s football IQ is a big reason why.

“The guys have to block at receiver and they have to know the system,” Bartic said. “That’s even more important for them than catching it, being fast and being athletic. In our system, you have to be able to block and you have to know it. 

“He made a commitment to it and started getting himself in the mix. He added on to it in the offseason and now here he is making plays.”

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