Cameron Potts looks for an open teammate during a 12-5 loss to Lawrence at home on April 15, 2016. (Photo by John Blaine.)

It’s not uncommon for football players to play a sport like lacrosse in the spring to stay in shape for the fall. It’s fast, competitive and physical—players who succeed at one usually succeed at the other.

It’s the other way around for Ewing High School senior Cameron Potts. Football helps him stay in shape for lacrosse. “For me,” Potts said, “this is it.”

Lacrosse is more than just a sport for Potts. Yes, it is his favorite sport, but his enjoyment of the game—his passion for it—goes beyond simply playing the game. And his dedication to lacrosse has enabled him to go from scoring just a single goal as a freshman to leading the Blue Devils in goals each of the past two seasons.

“I love every aspect of the game,” said Potts, who scored 27 goals as a sophomore and 31 goals as a junior. “I love how fast it is. I love the feeling of getting a quick pass and ripping [the net]. When I get upset, I come out here and shoot. It heals. The Native Americans call it the medicine game. Anytime I feel bad, I know I can come out here. I really do feel like it helps me, it heals me. I just put all my emotion into the game and it takes it away.”

Potts was introduced to lacrosse in the eighth grade by Brandon and Bryan Kowalski, who invited him to play on their rec team. The Kowalskis also are now seniors on the Ewing High squad.

After failing to find much scoring success in his early years, Potts began working harder and studying the game to improve. He watched videos of pro Paul Rabil—a former star at Johns Hopkins—and is now a big fan of current Johns Hopkins standout Ryan Brown.

“[Potts’s] work ethic is like no other,” Ewing lacrosse coach Kevin Anderson said. “He just poured it on. He wants to stay after every practice just to shoot. His mom has told me he’s gone through five or six nets at home because he just rips them up. He loves the game. His work ethic allows him to make whatever he wants to be a strength his strength.”

Opponents have double- and triple-teamed Potts to neutralize his goal-scoring ability. It has worked to a degree—Potts is second on the team in scoring this year—but his skills have opened up chances for other players, such as Brandon Kowalski, who leads the Blue Devils in goals this season.

“He’s not scoring as much, but he’s willing to give the ball up, make the assists, work the ball around,” Anderson said. “He knows how to make things happen, even when he doesn’t touch the ball. He’ll clear through and make holes for the guys with the ball. He’ll vacate the box altogether to make room. He’s a smart kid.”

Potts takes his opponents’ tactics as a challenge.

“That just pushes me to do better, be a better teammate, a better lacrosse player,” Potts said. “I’m not going to get the ball as much as I would like to, but when I do I hope I can help the team, whether it is with an assist or a goal. It gives people like Brandon opportunities. He’s the leading scorer right now. It gave him the opportunity to step up and he’s done a good job.”

Potts is one of the Blue Devils’ captains, along with the Kowalskis and junior Connor Delaney. A cross country runner in the fall, Delaney started playing lacrosse his freshman year.

“He’s been a leader for us too,” Anderson said about Delaney. “He’s doing all of our face-offs. He’s joined many offseason teams to better his play. He’s a great teammate. I’ve never seen him say anything negative to any of the guys. He’ll go talk to them in a very positive way; pick them up and try to help them.”

Ewing went 7-10 last year, with the seven wins setting a record for the program. The Blue Devils started this season by winning two of their first seven games, but hope for a turnaround in the second half.

“Any team can beat any other team on any given day,” Delaney said. “We just have to come out here and work as hard as we can and improve upon what we’ve been doing. We’ve been doing some things good, we just have to improve on that and I think we can turn it around. I think we can have a successful second half.”

Like Potts, Delaney has spent a lot of time in the offseason honing his skills.

“It makes a world of difference, just getting the practice in, the reps,” Delaney said. “You can really start to become one with the game. It’s second nature, passing and catching, all the basics, and then you can worry about strategy and the other intricacies of the game.”

For Potts, this season will mark the end of his lacrosse career. Following high school, he will join the U.S. Army.

“There will be no college lacrosse,” Potts said, adding with a smile, “But it’s a good cause. I hope to make it a career. We’ll see how it goes.”

If his success in lacrosse is any indication, though, he will succeed there, too.

“When he puts his mind to do something,” Anderson said, “he’s going to do it well.”