High School Football: Elks explosive combo years in the making

Centerville receiver Cameron Smith fights for yardage after a catch in the season-opening win over Fairfield. Smith leads the GWOC with 24 catches in four games for 423 yards and four touchdowns. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED
Caption
Centerville receiver Cameron Smith fights for yardage after a catch in the season-opening win over Fairfield. Smith leads the GWOC with 24 catches in four games for 423 yards and four touchdowns. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

Harrison, Smith are GWOC’s top QB-WR connection

CENTERVILLE -- The Chase and Cam chemistry mixes well for the Centerville Elks. Their bond often produces positive reactions. And sometimes a lot of Chase and a lot of Cam explodes.

It happened in the season opener against Fairfield when Chase Harrison – the quarterback – and Cam Smith – the receiver – went boom, and the Elks completed and celebrated a successful experiment that was years in the laboratory.

Harrison and Smith started playing football together in third grade. They are in their third season together on varsity and are the leading passing-game combo in the Greater Western Ohio Conference. That’s why a couple new plays for Smith were added to the playbook.

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The situation against Fairfield was the perfect moment. The Elks led 31-24 and faced third-and-3 from their 39-yard line. The obvious call was to run. But receivers coach Dan Kerns told head coach Brent Ullery that Smith would be open deep on the new play.

The play frees Smith to read the defense and pick his route. Harrison, who praises Smith for his football IQ, faked a hand-off, and Smith chose a route down the middle of the field. Harrison hit him in stride for a 61-yard touchdown with 2:39 left, securing a 38-24 victory.

“Cam saw the seam opening and I knew he was going to outrun them, so I just put it out there,” Harrison said. “It was awesome the coaches had trust in both of us to call it.”

That happens a lot with these two for the 3-1 Elks. Harrison has completed 63 of 105 passes (60%), and Smith has caught 24 of them. Harrison has passed for 840 yards, and Smith has 423 of them. Smith has seven touchdown passes, and Smith has four of them.

Centerville quarterback Chase Harrison fires a throw downfield during the season-opening win over Fairfield. Harrison leads the GWOC with 840 passing yards and seven touchdowns through four games. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED
Caption
Centerville quarterback Chase Harrison fires a throw downfield during the season-opening win over Fairfield. Harrison leads the GWOC with 840 passing yards and seven touchdowns through four games. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

“On some of our routes maybe the defense will play it well and Chase throws a back-shoulder ball,” Smith said of their ability to know what the other will do. “Both of us knowing that that’s going to happen or him knowing when I’m going to break off a route, just makes the connection a little bit easier.”

The two have been friends since Smith moved from Kettering to Centerville during their second-grade year. They have bonded over football, of course, but also over Call of Duty: Zombies and other sports.

“He had all the Pepsi at his house when we were younger, so his house was the spot,” Harrison said.

What they don’t have in common is recruiting attention, and Harrison doesn’t understand it. He is committed to Marshall, will sign in December and report to school in January as an early enrollee. But Smith, who caught 50 passes as a sophomore, 36 last year and has 1,775 career yards and 22 touchdowns, doesn’t have a Division I FBS offer. Only FCS members Wofford and Valparaiso and Division II programs Findlay and Notre Dame of Ohio have made offers.

“This kid’s gone under the radar for the past three years, and all he does is light up the stats,” Harrison said. “If you go to a game and watch him, you can tell he’s a high D-I guy. Whatever school that does get him, they’re getting a good one because he can play on Sundays. He’s that good.”

Smith doesn’t know why his 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame, his 4.56 40-yard time this past summer and his production haven’t paid off. He went to some camps his sophomore year and a Rivals camp by invitation at Maryland this past summer. But he hasn’t been the almost-every-weekend camper like other prospects.

“I want to actually earn it and not have to pay for it and go to all these Rivals camps,” Smith said. “I don’t want to make my mom pay for all that.”

Smith has had conversations with Maryland, Cincinnati and Marshall, but he’s still waiting on the offers he said he deserves.

“It’s been kind of disappointing because if you check the GWOC I’m easily one of the top players in the GWOC, in my opinion, and I know that’s Chase’s opinion,” Smith said. “I feel like kids from other schools are getting more offers and from bigger schools, and I feel like I’m the better player.”

Smith said Harrison is a friend he can talk to about important matters. Recruiting ups and downs are high on the list.

“I’ve told him multiple times that they’ll come,” Harrison said. “Just enjoy the season and don’t put too much stress on yourself. In the end, you can do what you do, but you can’t make someone offer you.”