Orangefield running back Cameron Dischler reflects on Willie Ray Smith Awards finalist experience

Published 5:07 am Tuesday, April 25, 2023

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BEAUMONT — Southeast Texas’ top high school football stars assembled Monday night for the 31st annual Willie Ray Smith Awards Banquet, held at the MCM Elegante ballroom in Beaumont.

Orangefield running back Cameron Dischler and Port Arthur Memorial quarterback Davion Wilson were among the four finalists on offense. Both were honored to have been part of the experience.

Dischler was the focal point of Orangefield’s ground-and-pound offense. The senior carried the ball 247 times for 2,441 yards and 28 touchdowns. He averaged an astounding 9.9 yards per attempt as the Bobcats went 9-3 overall and won their first outright district title since 1988.

2023 Willie Ray Smith Awards offensive finalists include Lumberton quarterback Lucas Powell, Orangefield running back Cameron Dischler, Silsbee receiver Dre’lon Miller and Memorial quarterback Davion Wilson. (Keagan Smith/Special to The Leader)

“I set this goal at the beginning of the season last year,” Dischler said. “This is where I wanted to be, so it’s a really big deal for us. It’s the Heisman of Southeast Texas, so to even be nominated as a finalist is amazing.

“Credit to my teammates for a fantastic year. My coaches put the ball in my hands and that’s what allowed me to do this. And for my family, supporters and friends, I couldn’t be here without them.”

Wilson said it means a lot just to be surrounded by great players with the same goal.

“It’s amazing,” he added. “The hospitality was great, and it was a lot of free knowledge. It’s just a blessing to be a part of an event of this caliber.”

Dock Rone, speaking in Beaumont Friday night, is the first African American to play football for the Crimson Tide at the University of Alabama. (Keagan Smith/Special to the Leader)

Wilson showed off his skill as a two-way quarterback this past season — he threw for 2,665 yards and 26 touchdowns, while also rushing for 995 yards and 13 scores. With Wilson under center, the Titans finished with an 11-2 overall record and won the 5A-II District 8 title.

“To my family and everybody from our whole town — thank you all for always coming out and supporting me,” Wilson said. “You’ve been watching me be the best version of myself and supporting me through the ups and downs.”

Lumberton quarterback Lucas Powell was also recognized as a finalist, while Silsbee receiver Dre’lon Miller won the offensive Willie Ray Smith award.

Silsbee linebacker Jayron Williams took home defensive player of the year honors.

Speakers at the awards banquet included members of the event sponsor Beaumont Founders Lions Club, Lamar University athletic director Jeff O’Malley and Dock Rone, the first African American to play football at the University of Alabama.