WASHINGTON — He’s more than a linebacker, although he has been named all state at that position twice. He’s more than a quarterback, although he has thrown 11 touchdowns this season. He is much more than a curiosity, although certain colleges have to be curious how he could make their team better. He is more than a peculiar sight, although people tend to stare. He is more than a basketball player, although he has started varsity as a sophomore. He is a thorn in opponents’ sides and the Washington student section chants a familiar phrase when he makes a play on the football field or the basketball court. “He has one arm.” And claps five times.
He is more than a player at a position. He is an athlete. He is Trashaun Willis, and Friday he was that receiver catching a touchdown pass and it wasn’t even his first catch this season.
Willis is the starting quarterback for the Washington Demons, who are unbeaten and ranked third in the Associated Press final poll for the 2020 Iowa high school football season. He is also a starting linebacker, a position in which he was named third team all-state after his sophomore year and second team after his junior season. In his senior season,
Willis is fifth in Class 3A in touchdowns with 26, scored by 13 rushing and 11 passing. He also has a touchdown from an interception against Class 4A perennial powerhouse Bettendorf. He also had a pick six in his junior season. Second on the Demons in tackles this season, he led Washington in that category last year as well as his sophomore year.
Friday in a 47-6 win over Keokuk and with time still remaining in the first quarter, Willis lined up in the slot as a receiver on the left side of the formation. He cut across the middle and grabbed a pass for a touchdown. Willis has a right arm, so cutting across the middle from the left meant that his arm was toward the quarterback. If he had cut across from the right side his arm would be downfield. Instead, it’s on the upfield side, so he has to twist his body to snare the ball.
Wouldn’t it have been easier on the other side? Can he really catch the football that way? He sure did.
“You don’t tell Trashaun what he can or can’t do,” Washington head coach James Harris said.
He obviously can contort his body whatever way necessary because he caught Ethan Patterson’s 13-yard pass for a TD and a 29-0 lead.
“I can catch it wherever I need to,” Willis said. “It was a beautiful pass, perfect pass.”
Offensive coordinator Don Miksch set the play up.
“Coach Miksch wants to keep showcasing Trashaun and what a great athlete he is,” Harris said. “Put him out on the edge and he’s a definite matchup problem with his size.”
Anywhere on the field, he is a matchup problem. Willis is 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds.
“He has demonstrated he can catch,” Harris said. “A lot of people probably think a one-armed guy can’t catch or do anything.”
A lot of people would be wrong about this particular one-armed guy.
“I think that it has been a wrong assumption for most everybody,” Harris said.
In practice, the play gets many reps, but as a run, not a pass. That was not the case in Friday’s because Miksch threw in an extra option during the week and called it spread nubs.
“We would use (that formation) to run sweeps,” Willis said. “That way we have a dual option with me and Patty.”
That sweep play was the meal to set up dessert and Willis feasted on it.
“Patty said he was gonna throw it to me, and he did, so I caught it,” Willis said. “I can catch it wherever, but it was a beautiful pass, perfect pass.”
It was just one more way to showcase what Willis can do in his No. 7 jersey.
“We have got No. 7 on our team,” Harris said. “No. 7 is a man.”
Emphasis on the man in that sentence.