Elijah Bugg and Sam Wilson of Oberlin High School signed letters of intent May 11 to continue as student-athletes at Heidelberg and Ashland universities, respectively.
Bugg was the Phoenix’s all-purpose threat on the gridiron, catching passes, cutting through defenses on long runs, and returning kicks. He was named to All-State, All-County, All-District, and All-Conference teams in 2015 for football.
Outside the athletic arena, Bugg was also one of 25 finalists for a $40,000 scholarship in the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage’s “Stop the Hate: Youth Speak” essay writing contest.
“It means a lot to get to this point,” said Bugg. “It’s just been a great deal of work. This is a moment I’ve been striving for since I was a kid and it’s finally here. My mother has been here for me the entire time. I’ve also tried to push others to be the best they can be. Our football season didn’t go quite the way that we wanted but we’re all putting in a lot of work to change that culture for the future of Oberlin football.”
“Changing schools and moving from Elyria to Oberlin was tough but very beneficial in the end,” said Bugg’s mother, Sarah Cathey. “Elijah lived with his father and then a football coach until I was able to move. That was a very hard process. Elijah is such a smart kid and he’s getting scholarships that we weren’t expecting in the beginning. All of our hard work is paying off.”
New football coach Garrett Mack’s first season will be without Bugg, but he still had some perspective on the special talent leaving Oberlin.
“I only got the chance to coach against Elijah,” he said. “He is a high school kid who’s hard to come by and a beast in the weight room. I was the defensive coordinator at Fairview Park and he had two touchdowns against us. We did the best that we could to corral him, and it wasn’t good enough. He is special in how he pushes himself but also how he pushes those around him to succeed.”
Sam Wilson was a four-year varsity letterman and two-year captain in wrestling. He emerged as champion at the Avon Lake Knights of Columbus tournament and the Brooklyn Brawl this past year, while finishing as the runner-up in the conference and sectional championships.
“This all feels very good. Wrestling didn’t start out as my main focus in high school,” said Wilson. “I was planning to go to college on a baseball scholarship. As the years went by, my biggest accomplishments were coming out of wrestling. Going to districts and having one of the best records on the team simply began to outweigh my baseball accomplishments. I’m really happy that I can share this with my family. Once the Ashland coaches called me, we quickly established a very good relationship that made the decision to go there an easy one.”
“It’s been so fun to watch him grow, develop, and succeed in many areas,” said Sam’s mother, Jennifer Wilson. “Like Sam, his dad and I were surprised to see him land with wrestling. We thought baseball would be the one.”
Coach Craig Enos expressed gratitude for Wilson’s unexpected foray into wrestling at a top level.
“Sam has come a long way through hard work in the past four years,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier that he was led to wrestling and to our team. He really broke out his senior year with a 32-9 record including 35 takedowns and 19 pins.”
OHS athletic director Ty Stillman sees Bugg and Wilson as two of Oberlin’s finest athletes.
“I got here around the same time as Elijah a little over three years ago,” he said. “It’s been a great journey and I’m very excited for him to put this feather in his cap. Heidelberg is a great fit. They’re really excited about him just like us. Both Elijah and Sam have meant so much to us here at Oberlin. They both deserve a great college to call home for the next four years.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Photos by Jonathan Delozier | Oberlin News-Tribune Oberlin High School’s Elijah Bugg and Sam Wilson signed their college letters of intent May 11.